What are cancer clinical trials?
Research studies for future cancer treatment, screening available at Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion
The Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion is committed to providing the highest quality treatments and services to our patients. One way we stay in the forefront of the latest advances in technology and treatment is through our robust clinical trials program.
Clinical trials are research studies that involve patients and help doctors and researchers find new ways to improve treatments and the quality of life for people with disease. In clinical trials, researchers methodically test drugs, medical devices, screening approaches, behavioral modifications and other interventions.
Clinical trials are used to answer many different clinical questions, furthering screening and treatment options to help you stay healthy and get better sooner. And by offering clinical trials at the LCRP, you can get the latest treatment and help further cancer research in the comfort of your own community.
The LCRP partners with a number national, state and regional partners to offer patients access to the latest trials available including the National Cancer Institute's Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG), Georgia CORE, Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina and Gibbs Cancer Center.
You can be assured patient safety is always top priority. All trials are administered according to a protocol. While the treatment may not be readily available to the general public, patients across the country also are participating in the same trial, following the same protocol.
Cancer clinical trials in Savannah
The Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion participates in approximately 85 clinical trials open to accrual that studies a large variety of cancer diagnosis, treatment and screenings. In 2016, there were 260 patients enrolled in clinical trials available at the LCRP. That’s an estimated 16 percent of patient case load.
Visit our Cancer Clinical Trials Database to see what trials are being planned or underway and if you or a relative might qualify.
How a clinical trial is beneficial to me
Clinical trial treatment may be equally effective yet more tolerable than current readily available treatment. There’s still a lot that doctors and researchers don’t know about cancer. Clinical trial participation can help find answers to these questions or lead researchers to new questions.
The goal is to have people live longer, better and healthier lives. This can only be done through clinical trial participation.
While clinical trials vary from study to study, there are many similar benefits to participating in one at the LCRP including:
- Potentially getting a newer and better treatment.
- Helping someone else that one day could benefit from this study and treatment.
- Having your own nurse/research coordinator that works side-by-side with you and your doctor. This nurse serves as another set of eyes and ears to help you through your journey.
- Getting the same high-quality treatment you’d get with any services provided by the LCRP.
The patient experience
Rick Kohl enjoys the active lifestyle Sun City, S.C., affords him – biking, jogging, swimming and golfing. Unfortunately his fun-filled life was put on hold following a December 2015 cancer diagnosis.
Kohl, now 67, was diagnosed with Stage III Melanoma. The cancer had spread to his lymph nodes. During two surgical procedures at the VA Hospital in Charleston, Kohl had 18 lymph nodes removed. When it came time for follow-up treatment, Kohl chose to come to the Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion because of its closer proximity to his home. It was here he learned about clinical trials.
Kohl and his medical team decided he was a good candidate for the clinical trial for the drug pembrolizumab, or pembro for short, also known as Keytruda. Kohl’s clinical trial compared the side effects and results of patients taking pembro (the investigational group) to the current treatment option interferon or ipilimumab (the controlled group). Kohl was selected at random to participate in the investigational group.
Kohl received infusion treatments every three weeks for 18 treatments. In between treatments, he had blood work performed and scans on his body looking for tumors. That’s compared to the controlled group in which patients took interferon, requiring a self-administered injection three times a week for an entire year.
Kohl occasionally experienced side effects, including fatigue, rash, dizziness and shortness of breath, which were less severe than the reported side effects of interferon.
Kohl had had his final treatment on July 18, 2017. Follow-up MRIs and CT scans continue to show the cancer has not returned.
“I was very blessed to be on this trial,” Kohl says. “I’m convinced that was the right way to go. If you are a candidate for a clinical trial, I’d highly recommend doing it.”
Read Mr. Kohl’s full survivor story
Advances in research and clinical trials
One of the main goals of the National Cancer Institute's Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) is to expand clinical trials and offer patients access to the latest trials available - all within their own community. With NCORP, the LCRP has greater access to clinical trials, expanded the number of clinical trials available to patients, started participating in early phase clinical trials, increased focus on minority and underserved population participation in clinical trials and joined the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG), which provides greater access to national clinical trials.
Visit the Georgia NCORP site for more information on clinical trials.
Robust clinical trial programs at the LCRP
The LCRP has a robust clinical trials program, led by Medical Director H.A. Zaren, MD, FACS. The LCRP participates in state, regional and national collaborations with other research sites including: a national collaboration with the National Cancer Institute's Community Oncology Research Program, a state collaboration with Georgia CORE; a regional collaboration with Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina; and a national collaboration with another NCORP site, Gibbs Cancer Center.
The LCRP also participates in a project on Early Phase Clinical Trial Infrastructure Development, which involves collaborations with the National Cancer Institute and the Medical College of Georgia.
For more information about advanced cancer services at the Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion at St. Joseph's/Candler, please call 912-819-5704.