This January, in recognition of National Pancreatic Cancer Clinical Trials Awareness Month, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) strongly encourages all pancreatic cancer patients to consider clinical trials at diagnosis and during every treatment decision. Clinical trials often provide the best treatment options for pancreatic cancer patients, but myths and misconceptions about trials remain prevalent.
Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, and according to the most recent American Cancer Society’s Facts and Figures report from 2018, only 9 percent of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will survive five years. Clinical trials give patients early access to leading-edge treatments that can advance research, improve treatment options and increase survival rates.
“People often assume clinical trial participation is not very important, and that simply could not be further from the truth,” said Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA, president and CEO of PanCAN. “Clinical trials provide valuable insight into pancreatic cancer and bring a better understanding of ways to detect, prevent and treat this disease. In fact, every treatment available today was approved through a clinical trial.”
One myth often shared about clinical trials is that patients not receiving the investigational therapy will receive a placebo instead. However, clinical trial patients will always receive the best-known standard of care, even if they are not selected to receive the therapy being studied. Patient safety is a top priority in all clinical trials and patients have a right to standard of care that protects them within a trial.
Another common misconception is that clinical trials are only meant for patients who have run out of other options. But PanCAN recommends clinical trials as an option for patients from diagnosis and through every treatment decision.
As a result of these myths and other factors, the national entrollment rate for pancreatic cancer clinical trials is only around 4.5 percent. By debunking common misconceptions and raising awareness about the importance of clinical trials, PanCAN aims to help more patients enroll in clinical trials, which can lead to new treatments and improve outcomes.
PanCAN’s Patient Central offers valuable resources to patients interested in learning more about clinical trial participation including free, personalized searches from the most comprehensive and up-to-date database of pancreatic cancer clinical trials available in the United States. Patients and healthcare professionals can also run their own searches through our online Clinical Trial Finder.
Patient Central Associates are also available to answer questions about clinical trials, provide comprehensive disease information, lists of specialists who treat a high volume of pancreatic cancer patients, access to precision medicine services, support resources and more.