Editor’s note: January is National Pancreatic Cancer Clinical Trials Awareness Month. All month, we’ll explore critical aspects of clinical trials. Join us to learn more about eligibility, safety, how to choose a clinical trial, questions to ask your doctor and more. You can also explore our clinical trials resources, including frequently asked questions.
Choosing a clinical trial on your own can be challenging. Some trial listings are out-of-date, and others require looking through trials for all cancer types or even all diseases. Then, the list of available trials can be daunting to consider if you don’t know what to look for.
But for pancreatic cancer patients, clinical trials often provide the best hope. Pancreatic cancer patients who participate in clinical research have better outcomes, and every treatment available today was approved through a clinical trial. So, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) strongly recommends clinical trials at diagnosis and during every treatment decision.
And we are committed to making the clinical trial consideration process easier on patients.
Here are some steps to help guide you as you evaluate clinical trials.
1. Get information about your diagnosis and treatment history
Clinical trials have specific eligibility criteria, which means you must meet certain requirements to participate. So, when looking for a clinical trial, it is important to know details about your diagnosis and treatment history, such as:
- Type and stage of pancreatic cancer
- Other areas of the body to which the cancer has spread, if applicable
- Past treatments, including drug names, dates received and number of treatments
- Test results, including molecular profiling results if performed
Your healthcare team can provide you with this information if you do not already know it. This is important to know at any stage in the pancreatic cancer journey, so we recommend always keeping a record of this information.
2. Know your treatment goals
Think about your goals for enrolling in a clinical trial. What results are you trying to achieve? How far are you willing to travel? What potential side effects are you willing, or not willing, to tolerate? If you know of restrictions up front, it is important to note these early to help narrow your search.
3. Use PanCAN’s resources to find clinical trials
PanCAN maintains the most comprehensive and up-to-date database of pancreatic cancer clinical trials available in the United States. Contact Patient Central for a personalized clinical trials search. The results a Patient Central Associate provides are grouped and summarized to help you more easily understand and compare options. Or, you can start your own search using our Clinical Trial Finder.
Patient Central Associates are also available to talk through your personalized clinical trials information. They can provide in-depth details and answer any questions you may have.
4. Talk to your doctor about the trials you found
Bring your search results to your next doctor’s appointment. Let your doctor know why you are interested in clinical trials and what you are hoping to achieve. Ask questions, and evaluate with your healthcare team whether a clinical trial is the right option for you.
During this discussion with your healthcare team, it is also important to understand and consider the value of each different treatment available through clinical trials. There are benefits to all therapy types, but some may better meet your individual needs and goals. For example, studies have shown that treatments based on a tumor’s biology may increase their success. If your trial search results include biomarker-driven therapies, treatments based on your tumor’s biology, you may weigh these differently than broader trials. When Patient Central runs a personalized clinical trials search for patients, results are grouped by the therapy type so you can better understand and evaluate each option.
5. Get more information about the trials that interest you
You or your doctor may reach out to the contact person for the trials you are interested in. During these conversations, ask questions to confirm your eligibility and to understand what will happen and what is required during the trial. Logistical details like number of visits, costs and insurance coverage, length of the trial and required testing are important to consider when evaluating a trial. Patient Central can also give you a list of questions to ask.
6. Contact Patient Central at any point along the way
Patient Central Associates are here to help. If you have any questions about how clinical trials work, what to do next or what questions to ask, you can always contact Patient Central for more information or support.