Thursday, December 07, 2006

AZ-funded study: Need for better cancer clinical trials education

AZ-funded study: Need for better cancer clinical trials education

According to an AstraZeneca-sponsored study, more than 80% of cancer patients were unaware of available and appropriate clinical trials when they were exploring treatment options. However, most oncologists believe that they discuss clinical trial participation with eligible patients. According to the researchers, more work needs to be done to make sure that cancer patients receive information about clinical trials. This is especially true because the survey also found that 69% of cancer patients would be very or somewhat interested in participating in a clinical trial if they still needed treatment and a new drug was being developed. The rate of interest was higher for lung cancer patients at 77%. In response to the lack of education and the stated willingness to participate, the Lung Cancer Alliance, which helped develop the survey, offers a toll free number to its Clinical Trials Matching Service.

New Survey Shows Half of Cancer Patients Are Not Aware of Clinical Trials at the Time of Their Treatment Decision

PR Newswire via NewsEdge Corporation :

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Lung Cancer Alliance, a nationally-recognized leader in providing patient support and advocacy solely for those living with or at risk for lung cancer, today announced disconcerting findings from a new national survey of 600 patients and oncologists that show a surprising and significant lack of awareness among cancer patients about clinical trials available to them. Concerns, fears and misperceptions about what to expect as a clinical trial participant, such as the quality of care a patient receives and the chances for treatment benefit, further deter the few who are informed from becoming involved themselves.

The Clinical Trial Awareness, Attitudes and Participation among Cancer Patients and Oncologists study sought to gain further insight into the predominant barriers to participation in clinical trials by cancer patients. The survey specifically examined attitudes and opinions of lung cancer patients as well as those with other types of cancer. It also surveyed attitudes and awareness among oncologists who provide treatment. Though most oncologists believe that they discuss clinical trial participation options with eligible patients, the study revealed that more than 80 percent of cancer patients say they were unaware of available and appropriate clinical trials at the time they were exploring treatment options.

Despite this seeming communication disconnect between oncologists and cancer patients, both oncologists and patients agree on the reasons why many patients do not choose to enroll in clinical trials, including:

* Fear of receiving a placebo or sugar pill (30% patients, 67% physicians)
* Fear of side effects (40% patients, 61% physicians)
* Inconvenience of the trial location (6% patients, 42% physicians)
* Costs associated with participation/insurance coverage issues (2% patients, 38% physicians)

"Clinical trials represent the single, most important step in the process of bringing new, improved cancer therapies to patients and the fact that many patients do not enroll in them because they do not feel they have enough information or even worse, don't know about them, is very troubling," said Roy S. Herbst, MD, PhD, Chief of the Section of Thoracic Medical Oncology, Professor of Medicine, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, who developed this survey with Lung Cancer Alliance. "Thousands of cancer patients are being helped each day by new therapies under investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This survey shows us that there is more work to be done to ensure information gets into the hands of cancer patients so they are able to make informed decisions about whether or not clinical trials are right for them."

While patients expressed numerous concerns and hesitations about participating in clinical studies, they did report that they would be interested if they had all the appropriate information regarding trials. In fact, seven out of ten cancer patients (69 percent) would be very or somewhat interested in participating in a clinical trial if they still required treatment and a new drug was being developed. Lung cancer patients, in particular, expressed more interest than other cancer patients (77 percent vs. 62 percent).

Additional advantages of joining a clinical trial cited by patients include helping with research to find a cure (30 percent) and exposure to the latest or cutting-edge treatment not yet on the market (26 percent). In terms of obtaining information about these studies, a vast majority of cancer patients (79 percent) learned about a trial from their physician. One out of four patients (26 percent) read about a trial online.

Despite being the primary source of clinical trial information for patients, oncologists expressed concern about the lack of one, central resource they can turn to for information about clinical trials taking place in their geographical area. While 50 percent of oncologists reported they are aware of all or most clinical trials for new cancer drugs, the findings also show that keeping current on these trials can be a time-consuming challenge and improved resources could further engage the treating oncologist community as well.

Another key consideration for patients and oncologists when evaluating the benefits of clinical trial participation is the efficacy and the side effect profile of current, FDA-approved treatments available for the disease. Experimental therapies can be synonymous with hope for patients with especially hard-to-treat cancers, such as lung cancer. This may explain why lung cancer patients are willing to travel further than other cancer patients to receive their treatment in a clinical trial -- 41 percent of lung cancer patients travel 20 miles or more to receive treatment compared to 31 percent of other cancer patients. According to the National Cancer Institute, 70 percent of lung cancer patients receive late-stage diagnoses, further limiting their treatment options by ruling out therapies that are most effective in the earlier stages of the disease.

"Throughout the cancer-treatment and support communities, we realized that barriers such as education, access and changes in Medicare were preventing patients from making informed decisions about clinical trial enrollment," said Laurie Fenton, President of Lung Cancer Alliance. "This dilemma can only be solved by providing cancer patients with consumer-friendly, unbiased information about clinical trials that debunks common myths and details the benefits of participation, ranging from medical to financial, for all eligible patients."
In response to this problem, Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) encourages interested patients and caregivers to contact a Clinical Trial Matching Specialist by calling, toll-free, (800) 698-0931. The LCA Clinical Trials Matching Service is powered by EmergingMed.

In addition, the 2006-7 LCA Clinical Trials Matching Service Education Series provides lung cancer patients and caregivers in-depth information on the clinical trial process and research results of clinical trials.

The study was made possible with the support of AstraZeneca. Information regarding lung and other cancer clinical trials sponsored by AstraZeneca can be obtained by calling the AstraZeneca Cancer Support Network at 1-(866)-992-9276. AstraZeneca also supports the LCA Clinical Trials Matching Service Education Series. Together, AstraZeneca and Lung Cancer Alliance are striving to make cancer care a more personalized experience for those affected by the disease to ensure better outcomes for all patients in the communities where we live and work.

About the Survey:
Clinical Trial Awareness, Attitudes and Participation among Cancer Patients and Oncologists was conducted online by Shugoll Research with 200 cancer patients, 200 lung cancer patients and 200 oncologists between August 9th and August 18th, 2006. The accuracy for the cancer patient sample, lung cancer patient sample and the oncologist sample of 200 is +/- 7.0 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

About Lung Cancer Alliance
Lung Cancer Alliance is the only non-profit organization solely dedicated to patient support and advocacy for people living with, or at risk for, lung cancer. As the number one cancer killer, lung cancer will kill more than 160,000 Americans this year alone, causing more deaths than breast, prostate, colon, liver, kidney cancers and melanoma combined. For more information about Lung Cancer Alliance, please visit

About AstraZeneca
AstraZeneca is a major international healthcare business engaged in the research, development, manufacture and marketing of prescription pharmaceuticals and the supply of healthcare services. It is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies with healthcare sales of $23.95 billion and leading positions in sales of gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory, oncology and infection products. In the United States, AstraZeneca is a $10.77 billion healthcare business with more than 12,000 employees. AstraZeneca is listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (Global) as well as the FTSE4Good Index. For more information about AstraZeneca, please visit:

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