Astera Cancer Care Clinical Trials: It Matters


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At Astera Cancer Care, we are committed to advancing cancer research and providing patients access to cutting-edge treatments and therapies through clinical trials. 

Clinical trials are a vital part of the journey to finding better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer. Clinical trials matter in our ongoing pursuit of progress.

Our approach combines the individualized attention of your care team with the expertise of a dedicated research team, ensuring you receive comprehensive support throughout your treatment journey.

What are clinical trials?

Clinical trials help doctors find better treatments for cancer and other diseases. Clinical trials also help doctors learn how to prevent disease or treat symptoms and side effects.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says new drugs and other treatments must be tested in clinical trials in the United States. This must happen before the FDA approves the drug or treatment for everyone to use.

There are many types of clinical trials because doctors always need new information and cancer treatment methods. If you or a loved one has cancer, you might consider joining a clinical trial to try a new drug or treatment or to help doctors develop better treatments for the future.

Clinical trials for new treatments

These clinical trials might study:

  • A new drug or combination of drugs
  • A new way of doing surgery or giving radiation therapy
  • A new way to give treatments
  • Behavioral changes, such as exercise and diet, that can help people live longer

Doctors call the treatment they use already the "standard of care." They want to learn if a new drug or treatment works as well or better. They also want to learn about side effects and make sure these are not too severe.

Clinical trials for side effects and symptoms

Doctors are always looking for ways to make people with cancer feel better. For example, doctors did clinical trials of drugs to prevent nausea and vomiting. People getting chemotherapy do not usually get as sick as in the past. This is the result of clinical trials to develop anti-nausea drugs.

Clinical trials for long-term side effects

Today, doctors cure more than half of all cancers. However, cancer treatment can cause side effects many years later. Doctors call these side effects "late effects". They do clinical trials to prevent and treat late effects in people with cancer.

Clinical trials to prevent and look for cancer

Doctors do clinical trials to find new ways to prevent cancer, reduce people's risk of cancer, or find it early. Early treatment is often more effective. 

Questions they study in these types of trials include:

  • How can we keep people from getting this type of cancer?
  • Is this cancer inherited or passed on from parent to child?
  • Can we keep an inherited cancer from developing? Can we find it earlier or warn people they could get it?
  • Can you prevent or reduce the risk of this cancer by eating or avoiding certain foods? Taking or avoiding certain medicines?
  • Does it help to make life changes, such as getting more sleep or exercise?

Phases of Clinical Trials

  • Phase I trials test if a new treatment is safe and look for the best way to give the treatment. Doctors also look for signs that the cancer responds to the new treatment.
  • Phase II trials test if one type of cancer responds to the new treatment.
  • Phase III trials test if a new treatment is better than a standard treatment.
  • Phase IV trials find more information about long-term benefits and side effects.

Most of the time, when you take part in a clinical trial, you will only be in one phase of the study. Treatments move through the phases, but patients do not.

Deciding to Join a Clinical Trial

As the patient, deciding whether to participate in a clinical trial is your decision. Ask as many questions as you need to until the answers are clear. 

Here are some questions you may want to ask your doctor.

What are the benefits and risks of participating in a clinical trial?

Each clinical trial has its own benefits and risks. You may benefit from joining a clinical trial in one of the following ways:

  • If the new treatment works, you may be one of the first people to benefit.
  • You may be able to help future cancer patients.
  • The trial sponsor may pay for some of your medical care or tests. (Ask your patient access specialist about who pays for these costs before you agree to join.)
  • Cancer experts design the treatments used in clinical trials.

Some possible risks include:

  • Side effects may be worse than those of the standard treatment.
  • Side effects may occur that the doctor does not expect.
  • New treatments sometimes turn out to be better than, or as good as, standard treatment.
  • As with standard treatment, the new treatment may not work for you, even if it works for other patients.

Am I able to take part?

Clinical trials involve volunteers. However, not all clinical trials are right for all patients. Each protocol has strict rules that doctors must follow to decide who may join the clinical trial. These rules are called eligibility criteria. This protects patients from getting treatment that may harm them. Eligibility criteria include information about:

You and your overall health: 

  • Age and gender
  • Results of medical tests
  • Medicines that you are taking
  • Any other health problems

Your cancer: 

  • Cancer type and stage
  • Other treatments you may have had
  • How long it has been since you were last treated

If you have found a clinical trial you think you want to join, talk to your doctor to see if you are eligible to participate.

How does the clinical trial staff keep me safe?

The doctor and other health care staff check your health regularly during the clinical trial. Clinical trial staff include nurses, researchers, and other health care professionals.

Before you start a clinical trial, the staff will answer your questions. They review all the clinical trial information with you. If you understand and decide you want to join the clinical trial, they will help you.

During the clinical trial, the research team will check your health regularly. They will tell you about any tests and procedures you need.

The staff may check on you several weeks, months, or longer after the clinical trial. They want to know if the treatment causes any problems. They might also want to know how long it works.

What should I do if I am in a clinical trial?

You should:

  • Follow instructions from the research team.
  • Ask questions about anything you do not understand.
  • Tell the research team if you have a new health problem. It might be a side effect of the clinical trial treatment.
  • Tell the research team if you are worried about anything.

It is important to tell the research team about your health during the clinical trial and later. They want to know all your health details to keep you safe.

Will I know what treatment I get?

In some clinical trials, the research team knows what treatment you get, but you do not. In other trials, no one knows, including the research team. And sometimes, everyone knows, including the patients. Talk with the research team ahead of time about the structure of the study you are interested in joining.

Can a clinical trial help my cancer?

It might. Clinical trials give hope to many people with cancer.

If you or a loved one has cancer, your doctor might ask if you want to be in a clinical trial. If you join, you receive the same level of care as with regular cancer treatment. Also, the clinical trial treatment may help you.

You should know that it can take a long time to get the full clinical trial results. This is because the study may include hundreds of people or even thousands. It can take a long time to study all the results.

Would I be allowed to quit the clinical trial?

All patients in clinical trials are volunteers. You can choose to quit a clinical trial at any time, but talk to your doctor first. Your doctor can tell you how quitting the trial might affect your health and if there are other treatment options. Your decision will not change your relationship with your health care providers.

Contact us to learn more about our ongoing clinical trials and how you can shape the future of cancer care because It Matters.

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