Clinical trials are the gold-standard tool for driving evidence-based medical research today. With the benefits they can present to patients, trials should be considered a viable healthcare option, particularly in oncology. Cancer trials can potentially reduce treatment cost burdens for patients and advance our grasp of how cancer develops. In this next installment of Vial CRO’s Oncology Trial Management series, we discuss how sponsors can increase their chances of success when running a lung cancer clinical trial.
1 | Understanding Lung Cancer
Across the globe, over 2.2 million individuals were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2020. Lung cancer can be categorized either as non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which makes up nearly 85% of all cases, or small cell lung cancer (SCLC), which tends to progress more quickly and is prone to returning even after chemotherapy. A history of smoking, prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke, and a family history of the disease are all significant risk factors contributing to a lung cancer diagnosis. The 5-year survival rate for all types of lung cancer is 22%; however, this changes to 63% for localized NSCLCs, 35% for regional NSCLCs, and 7% for distant NSCLCs. As more modern treatments, like targeted drugs or immunotherapy, are discovered, thousands of people have been cured of NSCLCs each year in the US.
2 | Improving Local Access and Patient Recruitment to Clinical Trials
Although lung cancer research has made great strides in recent decades, there are still notable challenges faced by clinical trials studying this disease. Barriers include insufficient funds and time delays, but what will set a successful trial apart from the rest is the sponsor’s plan for optimizing patient recruitment by increasing study accessibility and awareness. Continuing to foster strong networks with local healthcare advocacy groups, respirologists, oncology units, and private medical clinics can help spread the word to nearby clinicians about an actively recruiting trial. To further the concept of patient-centric clinical trials, sponsors should also remain flexible to the needs of prospective and enrolled subjects. Healthcare costs, appointment travel costs, and geographical barriers to trial access for low-density population areas can all impede recruitment. This challenge is an opportunity for sponsors to create solutions to alleviate the patient’s pain points regarding study participation.
3 | Optimizing Patient Education Before and After Randomization
Keeping up patient education activities as a trial moves through its lifecycle promotes greater protocol compliance and gathers more interest from the target population. Lung cancer, in particular, faces social stigma due to its association with smoking, and it may prevent patients from seeking the help they need. By starting the conversation and reducing the stigma around lung cancer and clinical research, sponsors open the door for patients to explore many new treatment options with lower cost burdens. For potential participants, providing informational materials and clinician education should be used to address their fear or uncertainty around safety, efficacy, and health support. A few initial questions that should be answered during an initial visit with a patient include:
- What is a clinical trial?
- How will it impact my lung cancer prognosis and treatment plan?
- What side effects can I expect, and how will they be managed?
- What happens if I do not get the treatment I want?
- What happens with my lung cancer care after I complete the trial?
Ultimately, the key stakeholders in these clinical trials are the patients and their families who have to live with their lung cancer diagnosis and the difficulties which come with it. When sponsors continually invest in patient education strategies, potential subjects gain a better understanding of why clinical research is essential in medicine, and enrolled subjects are actively empowered to collaborate in their cancer care.
Manage More Efficient Lung Cancer Clinical Trials
Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide for both men and women. Designing clinical trials for this indication can be challenging, considering the significant recruitment barriers facing respiratory and oncology clinical trials since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Improving trial accessibility and education helps sponsors bring in more eligible participants and enable more clinicians and patients to consider investigational studies as a viable option for lung cancer therapy.
Ensure successful outcomes for your lung cancer clinical trials by selecting a trusted contract research organization (CRO). By leveraging an experienced Oncology CRO, you’ll get the right information to create a patient-centric design and robust recruitment plan, your lung cancer clinical trial will be easier to manage as more patients are enrolled over time.
Choose Vial, the CRO for biotech. Vial’s Oncology CRO is building towards a more efficient future for clinical trials. Contact our team here or visit https://vial.com/cro/oncology/ to learn how our CRO’s products are delivering faster and more efficient oncology clinical trials for sponsors at a fixed-fee rate. Connect with a team member today!