To better understand why people do not enroll in cancer trials, several cancer initiatives, including the Clinical Trials Summit Series and the National Dialogue on Cancer, have been formed to help address this crisis in cancer care5. By raising public awareness about cancer research and the clinical trials process, these organizations hope to double the number of patients entering in cancer clinical trials by 2005 — from approximately 45,000 adult patients per year to 90,0006.

97 percent of the cancer patients surveyed, who participated in a clinical trial, said they received excellent or good quality care.

A survey was conducted in 1999 by the Clinical Trials Summit to gain information and insight from cancer patients about clinical trials. The survey included cancer patients who participated in clinical research and those who had not. The results were surprising and showed that cancer patients need basic information about clinical trials. A great number of cancer patients—85 percent of patients surveyed—don’t even know that clinical trials are a treatment option. Yet even more startling is that among patients who knew about trials, more than 70 percent decided not to participate. Reasons given showed that there are widespread misunderstandings about cancer research. However, anyone considering a clinical trial should feel better knowing that 97 percent of the cancer patients surveyed who participated in a clinical trial said they received excellent or good quality care, 93 percent had an overall positive experience, and 76 percent would recommend a trial to others7.

Research may be the competitive edge in your treatment that makes the difference in survival or quality of life.

We can all be proud of the progress being made against cancer. But if more people decided to participate in cancer research, great leaps forward could be made in finding a cure. Research may be the competitive edge in your treatment that makes the difference in survival or quality of life. That is why I encourage you to know the facts about clinical trials, talk to your treatment team about your options and seek their advice. You may decide to break from the pack and take the lead by joining a trial. Doing so may take you on the road less traveled, but your efforts could help produce positive health results for you and ultimately, contribute to the health of future generations.