Michael A. Caligiuri, MD, Director, The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and CEO, James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute speaks, highlights the importance of clinical trials.
Clinical trials can involve the testing of:
•The latest drugs
•Novel approaches to surgery or radiation therapy
•Combinations of treatments
•New methods, such as gene therapy
•New treatment results with standard treatment
A clinical trial is one of the final stages of a long and careful research process. The search for new cancer treatments begins in the laboratory, where scientists develop and test new ideas. If an approach seems promising, the next step may be testing it in the laboratory. Testing is done to see what the effect of the treatment is and to determine whether the treatment has harmful side effects. Of course, treatments that work a certain way in the laboratory don't necessarily work that way with people. That's why clinical trials are done with cancer patients – to find out whether promising treatments are safe and effective. "Standard of care" therapies given today are a result of information gained from clinical trials.
Much of what we know today about cancer treatment is a result of what was learned from past clinical trials. Clinical trials may answer important scientific questions and suggest future research directions.
In a clinical trial, patients receive the most current cancer care available from cancer experts. They receive either a new treatment that's being tested or they receive the best available standard treatment for their cancer. Because clinical trials deal with a very serious disease, there's no guarantee that either the new treatment or the standard treatment will produce the hoped-for results.
Although new treatments have unknown risks, a new treatment may prove to be as effective or more effective than the best available standard treatment. If so, patients participating in clinical trials are among the first to benefit. Patients receiving standard treatment often benefit from the trial, too.
Examples of Current Research
As a national leader in the field, Ohio State participates in ongoing research that is vital to continued advancements toward refining surgical procedures that result in better patient care and improved patient outcomes. Data from such studies will help set standards for robotic surgery outcomes across the world.
In addition to ongoing research aimed at evaluating safety, efficacy and quality of life outcomes for patients undergoing gynecological robotic surgery, we participate in clinical trials studying:
• Pain levels for endometrial cancer patients undergoing robotic surgery versus laparotomy or traditional surgery
• The use of robotics and fluorescents to determine lymph node metastasis and to examine the potential route of spread of endometrial cancer
OSUCCC – James researchers champion translational research, contributing to outcome studies on the safety and efficacy of robotic procedures. One of the latest endeavors is a pilot study using the first cohort of robotic thoracic surgery cases to assess their comparative effectiveness to similar groups of thoracotomy and video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) patients.
Head and Neck
Research is vital to advancing the reach of robotic surgery. It's why we’re invested in participating in clinical trials to continually develop new procedures and improve current techniques so we can give patients access to the best treatment possible. Surgeons are leading a pioneering clinical trial studying the use of transoral robotic surgery (TORS) for oral and laryngopharyngeal benign and malignant lesions, and published the first report on the use of TORS for nasopharyngeal lesions. In addition, we’re involved in ongoing research studying clinical and quality of life outcomes for patients undergoing TORS. We are also part of research and have published findings on the use of TORS for:
• Lingual tonsillectomies
• Nasopharyngeal lesions
• Supraglottic laryngectomies
• Managing upper aerodigestive tract tumors
“We know there are many things we can learn from one another, and we are eager to share our knowledge and expertise across specialties.” – Jeffrey Fowler, MD, Vice Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Director of Ohio State’s Center for Advanced Robotic Surgery