Clinical trials are the means by which doctors and researchers work toward providing newer, better and more innovative health care treatments. This is especially true as the health care community works toward treating cancer. As the charter member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance, the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute is giving patients access to hundreds of clinical trials. Dr. Patricia DeFusco is the newly-appointed medical director of the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute Breast Program.
Q: What is the importance of cancer clinical trials?
A: Clinical trials are the means by which we learn about new therapies, and also learn about the application of very novel therapies to very specific subsets of patients.
Q: What’s new in clinical research?
A: One of the exciting trials we’re involved with Memorial Sloan Kettering is called the Impact Trial. This is the trial where we’re sending off tumor specimens in patients with newly-diagnosed metastatic cancer. Those tumor specimens are analyzed for a number of different pathways. If there is an abnormality found in one of those pathways, it may help to make the patient eligible for a specific clinical trial looking at a drug that might alter that pathway.
Q: Who is the best candidate for something like this?
A: At Hartford HealthCare, we’re doing this quite a bit in the breast program by looking at women with newly-diagnosed metastatic breast cancer. We know that there are differences in the pathways between the initial diagnosis and the presence of metastatic disease. Trying to exploit those differences to find better therapies is what we’re trying to find.
Learn more about locally-available cancer clinical trials here from the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute.