What does it mean to participate in clinical trials?

Question: What does it mean when you say the MMC Cancer Center participates in “clinical trials”?

Anwer: The term “clinical trials” refers to a study process that revolves around people who choose to be part of a very important aspect of cancer research. Clinical trials are usually the very end of a long process of research and development that began with an idea and was constructed in a laboratory. After the research is conducted to develop a drug, clinical trials are written. They undergo intense evaluation by experts to decide whether or not it is a viable study to conduct on people. Once a clinical trial is approved, at this point it is referred to as a protocol.

When individuals consent to participate in a protocol, they are closely monitored and evaluated by a research nurse and their physician, who is identified as the principle investigator. These medical individuals follow the protocol requirements, called parameters. During the enrollment and treatment process, specific information is collected based on the type of protocol the patient is on and is then submitted to the cooperative or pharmacologic group in charge of the clinical trial.

When individuals make the significant choice to participate in a clinical trial it allows for the expansion of new methods for prevention, detection, and treatment options for cancer. It is through these studies that researchers can conclude not only if new treatments are safe and effective, but how certain drugs can be used together or alone in order to improve current treatments and outcomes, thereby enhancing a cancer patient’s quality of life.

As a Commission on Cancer (CoC) Accredited Program, MMC Cancer Center is the only cancer center in southern New Mexico with the capability to offer this important clinic trial opportunity to individuals. MMC Cancer Center’s research process is under the oversight of the New Mexico Cancer Care Alliance (NMCCA) and an affiliate of the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated Cancer Center.

MMC Cancer Center’s clinical trials enable patients to access and participate in the latest research studies (if they desire) and still remain right here at home for treatment. The only way true progress can be made in cancer care is for patients to participate in clinical research. MMC is proud to offer the highest standard of cancer care to our patients.