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Seeking the Best Cancer Care? Consider Clinical Trials

March 12, 2013 | Alexandra Mulvey

Yesterday, the New York Times published an article about a recent study finding that only about a third of ovarian cancer patients receive the known best standard of care—the treatment recommended by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), a group of the most highly credited cancer treatment centers in the United States. According to the article, “Most women with ovarian cancer receive inadequate care and miss out on treatments that could add a year or more to their lives.” This is a shocking finding, but there are some key takeaways.

Much of the reason for the inadequate level of care is that patients are often treated by their gynecologists or local surgeons at hospitals with little experience treating ovarian cancer patients, rather than by specialized gynecologic oncologists in medical centers with adequate experience. So the biggest takeaway is that patients who want to ensure that they receive the highest quality care should seek doctors who are specially trained to treat ovarian cancer and at medical centers with significant experience with treating patients with the disease, such as major academic medical centers including those that are part of the NCCN.

In addition to receiving the best standard of care, there is another reason to consider seeking out treatment at these sites—they are more likely to be aware of and offer opportunities to participate in clinical trials. The NCCN, in fact, believes that the best management of any cancer patient is in a clinical trial. As a clinical trial participant, patients are guaranteed to receive the most current standard of care, as well as access to new experimental treatments that could end up proving more beneficial. For information about some of the potential benefits of clinical trials, see our section About Clinical Trials.

Clinical trials may be important options for patients with cancer today, and are absolutely critical to testing and bringing new treatments to patients in the future. This is especially the case with cancer immunotherapies. With so few immunotherapies for cancer reaching approval to date—and hundreds more being tested in clinical trials—these trials represent the future of cancer treatment, and we will only get there through patient participation. In addition to taking charge of their care by seeking out well-trained doctors at expert medical centers, we encourage all patients—with ovarian and other cancers—to empower themselves by learning about and considering the option to enroll in clinical trials.

If you would like to get a sense of the cancer immunotherapy trials that are out there and that you might be eligible for, check out our Cancer Immunotherapy Clinical Trial Finder or send an email to clinicaltrials@cancerresearch.org. We’re happy to help you find a trial that might be right for you!

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