When a new drug or treatment for cancer (or any disease) is approved for use, it’s because that treatment was proven safe and effective by a means of testing called a clinical trial. People have many reasons for participating in clinical trials. For some, the personal journey to overcome their disease becomes a larger mission to spare others from it.
Often, too, those who participate in clinical trials reap the benefits of exciting treatments that may be years away from widespread availability.
For example, an innovative breast cancer drug called T-DM1 was studied in a national clinical trial led by Duke’s Kimberly Blackwell, MD. Duke patients were among the first to try the drug, which proved to be effective. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the therapy in 2013 - it is now known as Kadcyla (ado-trastuzumab emtansine) - for certain women who have late-stage breast cancer, and it is now available to people around the country.
Hundreds of such clinical trials are offered at Duke Health for a variety of diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and others. And the Duke Clinical Research Institute—the largest academic research organization in the world—has an international scope, leading studies in North Carolina and beyond.
For many Duke patients, the experience of participating in clinical trials has brought a sense of satisfaction, knowing that their personal struggles were integral to the greater goal of finding better treatments and, perhaps one day, cures.