Join Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials
Nearly a quarter of a million men in the United States will find themselves diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012, and tens of thousands will die as a result of the disease. When detected and treated early, prostate cancer has a high survival rate, which is reassuring to many men who receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer clinical trials seeks to find new and better ways to detect and treat prostate cancer.
Also encouraging is the fact that there is a vast amount of research currently being conducted pertaining to all aspects of prostate cancer. Research is aimed at identifying what causes prostate cancer to develop, as well as better methods to prevent, screen, and diagnose the disease.
Additionally, an extremely active area of prostate cancer research focuses on improving existing treatments in order to minimize unwanted side effects, such as impotency, as well as developing more effective methods of delivering radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy.
What Will Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials Be Like?
When participating in a prostate cancer clinical trial, there are a few basic tests and procedures you may receive; however, the ultimate design of the particular study will determine which specific procedures you will undergo. Some of the following tests and procedures may be used during prostate cancer clinical trials:
- Physical exam and detailed family history information
- Digital rectal exam (DRE)
- Blood test to measure the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood. PSA is found in increased amounts among men who have prostate cancer, and is often used as part of screening efforts to detect the presence of prostate cancer, as well as to monitor the effects of treatment.
- Blood and/or tissue sample for the purposes of conducting genetic testing.
- If the study is evaluating a new type of medication or vaccine, blood and/or urine tests may be performed to monitor how your body metabolizes the medication or how effectively your body has responded to the vaccine.
- Quality of life assessments to evaluate how your cancer is impacting your ability to perform activities of daily living.
- Imaging procedures such computed tomography (CT scan, or “CAT scan”) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. These imaging procedures are non-invasive and provide detailed pictures of areas inside your body.
Typical Protocol for Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials:
Prostate cancer research is abundant, in terms of the numbers of clinical trials currently underway, as well as the breadth and depth of topics being investigated. Sample clinical trials might include the following:
- A clinical trial evaluating men with prostate cancer who have a specific grouping of genetic mutations as well as men with prostate cancer who do not have those same mutations in order to determine if a) those with the genetic mutations have a poorer response to standard treatment and b) those with the genetic mutations are more likely to have their disease spread to other sites of the body.
- A long-term study designed to evaluate if a high intake of vitamin D places him at a lower risk of developing prostate cancer.
- A clinical trial designed to evaluate if a man’s blood level of calcium has an impact (either positively or negatively) on how they respond to chemotherapy for prostate cancer.
- A study designed to determine if the use of specific hormonal medications can reduce the risk of prostate cancer in African American men with a family history of the disease.
- A clinical trial designed to compare two separate types of PSA testing to determine which one more accurately detects the presence of prostate cancer.
- A clinical trial designed to evaluate a newer, more targeted method of delivering radiation therapy to the prostate in order to determine if a) it more effectively treats prostate cancer than standard radiation therapy delivery methods and b) if it results in fewer radiation-related side effects.
- A clinical trial comparing standard chemotherapy for prostate cancer to a new combination of chemotherapy drugs to determine a) which has a greater impact on the growth of the cancer and b) which has fewer side effects.
A brief word about randomized trials and placebos:
Many clinical trials, like prostate cancer clinical trials, involve the comparison of an investigational treatment to a “standard” treatment. Some studies determine which therapy a patient receives through a process known as randomization, in which patients are randomly assigned to receive either the investigational treatment or the standard treatment.
On occasion, a trial will investigate the use of a standard treatment plus a new drug compared to standard treatment plus a placebo. Placebos are inactive or “sham” treatments that are identical in appearance to the active treatment but have no therapeutic value.
Placebos are necessary to help determine if adverse effects that occur during the clinical trial are the result of the investigational treatment or due to some other factor. They also allow researchers to measure the effects of the active treatment and observe what would have happened without it.
In rare instances where no standard therapy exists, or when a new drug is being evaluated for the first time in a specific cancer, the investigational treatment might be compared to a placebo alone. In these types of trials, those patients who are randomized to the placebo group do not receive an active treatment.
This is rarely done in cancer clinical trials; however it may occasionally be necessary from a scientific standpoint. Placebo-only trials will only be done when ethically appropriate and when patients have been adequately informed that they may end up receiving the placebo rather than the active treatment.
It is very important to note, however, that no one should ever participate in such a placebo trial when there is a widely available and highly effective standard treatment already in existence for their particular type of cancer and clinical situation.
Trial Eligibility and Medical Information Needed:
The type of prostate cancer clinical trials you may be eligible for often depends on many factors, including your disease stage, treatment history, and a variety of clinical findings. Therefore, it is important to know many details pertaining to your specific diagnosis when searching for clinical trials. Examples of the details you will want to have on hand include:
- The name, location, size, stage, and cell type of your cancer, as well as the locations of any metastases you have. Also know these details for any prior cancer you have had.
- Know your performance status, which estimates how well you perform normal activities of daily living. Examples: Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) and the ECOG scale.
- Know your treatment history, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and/or surgery.
- Know your blood cell counts, liver function test results, and kidney function test results.
Suggested Search Terms:
“prostate cancer treatment,” “prostate cancer chemotherapy,” “prostate cancer radiation therapy,” “prostate cancer management,” “prostate cancer surgery,” “advanced prostate cancer,” “prostate cancer hormone therapy,” “prostate cancer watchful waiting,” “prostate cancer diet,” “prostate cancer screening,” and “prostate cancer side effects,” “prostate cancer clinical trials.”
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