Join Clinical Trials for Renal Cell Carcinoma (Kidney Cancer)
Kidney cancer refers to three specific types of cancer: renal cell carcinoma, renal pelvis carcinoma, and Wilms tumor. Renal cell carcinoma develops in the lining and small tubes of the kidneys, whereas renal pelvis carcinoma develops in the center of the kidneys, where urine collects before it is transferred to the bladder.
Wilms tumor typically develops in children under five years of age. It is estimated that in 2012, over 64,000 new cases of kidney cancer will be diagnosed in adults, and over 13,000 will die. Current research regarding kidney cancer seeks to identify its causes and ways in which to prevent its development.
In addition, treatments are being refined in order to improve the survival rate of kidney cancer, and research is also being conducted to better understand the genetic changes that cause kidney cells to become cancerous. A major thrust of kidney cancer research is to try and identify specific factors about an individual’s kidney cancer that might make that tumor more likely to respond to a particular medicine.
What Will Renal Cell Carcinoma Clinical Trials Be Like?
Clinical trials for renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer) may involve many common tests and procedures; however, the ultimate design of the particular study will determine which specific procedures you will undergo. Examples of specific tests and procedures that may be used in a clinical trial for kidney cancer include the following:
- Physical exam
- 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.
- Urine tests to detect the presence of blood cells.
- Imaging procedures such as 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. Conventional x-rays may also be used.
- Determination and monitoring of the Fuhrman grade. Kidney cancers are typically graded on a scale of one to four; the lower the number, the better the prognosis.
- Quality of life assessments to evaluate how your cancer is impacting your ability to perform activities of daily living.
- Pain assessments
- Dietary assessments
Typical Renal Cell Carcinoma Clinical Trial Protocol:
Research related to kidney cancer is investigating a number of aspects pertaining to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of kidney cancer. Examples of sample clinical trials include the following:
- A clinical trial that evaluates the effectiveness of using a therapy that has been carefully selected to match individual patient and tumor characteristics (i.e., “targeted therapy”)
- A clinical trial that investigates a new drug that blocks specific activities within cells that are known to cause them to become cancerous.
- A clinical trial that compares the use of high-intensity focused ultrasound versus standard radiation therapy techniques to kill kidney cancer cells.
- A clinical trial that compares targeted therapy plus standard chemotherapy to standard chemotherapy alone for the treatment of advanced kidney cancer.
- A study designed to treat kidney cancer through the use of vaccines designed to boost the body’s immune response to kidney cancer cells.
A brief word about randomized trials and placebos:
Many 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 clinical trial 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:
Remember that “kidney cancer” refers collectively to three specific types of kidney tumors; therefore, you may find it easier to refine your search by using the name of your specific kidney tumor (i.e., renal pelvis carcinoma, Wilms tumor, etc.).
If doing so narrows your search findings too drastically, try a more general search using the phrase “kidney cancer.” Regardless of which type of kidney cancer you have, or if you are using the broad term “kidney cancer,” adding the following terms to your query may provide useful findings: “prevention,” “treatment,” “surgery,” “chemotherapy,” “radiation therapy,” “treatment side effects,” “hereditary,” “genetics,” “children,” “pediatric,” “advanced,” “pain,” and “metastatic.”
Current Search Term:
“Renal Cell Carcinoma”