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The Importance of Discussing Clinical Trials with Your Oncologist

As new trials continue to improve treatment options for patients with all types of cancer, it’s “never too soon to be talking about clinical trials with your oncologist,” says Dr. Pashtoon Kasi.

If we knew it was going to work, it wouldn’t be a trial.

Dr. Pashtoon Kasi is a clinical assistant professor of internal medicine, hematology, oncology and blood and marrow transplantation at the University of Iowa Health Care. Dr. Kasi opened up about the importance of patients and caregivers considering clinical trials. This consideration is in addition to patients asking their physicians about what trial options exist at each touchpoint in the treatment journey, beginning with diagnosis.

“If you look up any of the NCCN guidelines, I love their statement that the best treatment for any patient right now is a clinical trial,” said Kasi. “I can’t emphasize that more. It’s a topic that’s very close to my heart.”

It’s never too soon to be talking about trials, trials should be a discussion at the time of diagnosis. A trial should be a discussion at every point your oncologist or your physician is making a change (in treatment), the first question that should come from a patient or caregiver standpoint is, is there a trial that I can sign up for before we just move on to whatever is next available.

From a patient standpoint, especially with not just common cancer, but even rare cancers, and then even within rare cancer, rare aberrations, knowing which of these trials are an option.

It’s critical that we change the narrative around how and when to consider clinical trials as part of a patient’s treatment journey. And it’s truly of value because a lot of the new trials are not necessarily generic, they are targeted with strong preclinical evidence. 

“The reality is that clinical trials are not optimized by simply signing up for something that’s isn’t built on intentionality and solid parameters. If we knew it was going to work, it wouldn’t be a trial. Nevertheless, there is a lot of value in trials right now and again, they should not be something that you would be the last line or when you’re out of options.”

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