Conclusions of this study by The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, published in the September 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, suggests that some patients who follow the medical media are sophisticated enough to understand the purpose and limitations of the clinical trials process -- even in the face of what researchers see as optimistic reporting.
"We thought patients who wanted to enter a clinical trial because of what the media reported would have unrealistically high hopes and would be misinformed about Phase I testing, but some turned out to be almost ideal Phase I participants," said the study's lead author, Rebecca Pentz, Ph.D, a professor of hematology and oncology in research ethics at Emory University's Winship Cancer Institute.
"They were hopeful, as all patients wishing to enter a Phase I trial tend to be, yet well informed and realistic -- the kind of patients that researchers want," says Pentz, who conducted the study while she worked at M. D. Anderson, before her move to Emory. The research was funded in part by the National Cancer Institute.
"Contrary to our expectations, the media coverage was helpful because the patients it brought in appeared to be better informed than those who came in through the standard referral process via their physicians," agreed the study's principal investigator, James Abbruzzese, M.D., professor and chairman of M. D. Anderson's Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology. "This is a small study, but it is reassuring."
This study was launched 18 months after The New York Times ran a landmark, front page story on May 3, 1998,
Contact: Julie Penne or Laura Sussman
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center