Many groups raise money for cancer research. But what exactly does that mean? Cancer research is done by scientists all over the country and across the world. These scientists investigate and analyze different components of different cancers to better understand how the disease attacks. The better understanding we have of cancer, the better prevention we can provide and the better weapons we can develop to fight it.
Cancer research also refers to the development of treatments. Researchers look at different ways to take what we know about cancer, identify the weaknesses of the cancer cells, and find new ways to attack those cells. The great treatments available today are a result of such research. We are always looking for ways to improve upon those treatments to cure more people, to cure faster and to cure with little or no side effects. Because there is still room for improvement, we are still diligently researching cancer.
Clinical trials are scientific studies of how a new medicine or treatment works in people. Through these studies, doctors try to answer scientific questions to find new and better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, control, and treat cancer. For patients, this means access to the latest life-saving medical advances years before they become widely available.
Participation in a clinical trial is completely voluntary and must be done in consultation with the specialists involved in your treatment plan. If they feel one of the current studies is right for you, they will arrange for the Oncology Clinical Trials research nurse to meet with you and your family to talk about the study and what it means to participate.
These appointments can be scheduled quickly, often on the same day you meet with your physician. You are given time to carefully consider all the facts before enrolling in the trial, and you may leave the trial at any time.
Should you decide to participate in a clinical trial you will be closely monitored by many doctors. They will likely request to see you more frequently than a patient not on a clinical trial. They will evaluate you and record results which can then be used as part of the data for the clinical trial.
You would have also access to treatments involving new agents without traveling outside of the community. Many treatments available through clinical trials look very promising but won’t be available to patients for many years because the treatments must undergo a rigorous approvals process.
While the idea of having a potentially life saving treatment not yet available is exciting, you must realize there is no guarantee that the treatment will have a greater benefit than the standard of care. There may be unusual side effects.
Each patient must look at all the positives and negatives of clinical trials and must make the decision that is personally right for them. Some patients pursuer trials looking for a miracle and some patients pursue trials hoping to help create a miracle for someone else. What is certain is that cancer research, from the top scientists all the way through to the brave patients, provide a wealth of knowledge that continues to improve daily the level of cancer care we can provide.
Vladimir Ioffe, MD
Vladimir Ioffe, MD, Radiation Oncologist and Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, Fox Chase Cancer Center, has joined PinnacleHealth-Fox Chase Regional Cancer Center. Prior to joining PinnacleHealth, Dr. Ioffe practiced in the Baltimore-Washington D.C., regional offices of 21st Century Oncology, a national operator of freestanding and hospital-based radiation therapy centers.
Dr. Ioffe specializes in treating all cancers with highly effective radiation therapy. He has special interests in patients with head and neck, breast, and thoracic cancers, as well as stereotactic radiotherapy for brain and body tumors. He earned his medical degree at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is fluent in Russian. Dr. Ioffe, along with Radiation Oncology Director, Brij Sood MD Associate Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, Fox Chase Cancer Center, and Radiation Oncologist Warren Sewall, MD, is now serving patients at PinnacleHealth-Foc Chase Regional Cancer Center, Medical Sciences Pavilion, Community Campus.
For more information or referrals, please call 717-724-6740.