Medical partnership brings clinical trials to cancer patients

Published: Nov. 7, 2019 at 6:22 PM CST
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Local cancer patients are now going to have new options for treatments thanks to a partnership with Mary Lanning and UNMC. Now people can take part in clinical trials for their treatment.

A clinical trial is where a patient is given a new form of treatment that's been approved for human use. It is considered to be phase three of research with phase two being animal testing and phase one is lab testing. To get to phase 3, it can take over a decade and billions of dollars.

“There's some misconception clinical trials is only when patients run out of options at the end of the day,” Oncologist/Hematologist Mehmet Sitki Copur, MD FACP, of Mary Lanning Healthcare said. “Clinical trials are first, any and every patient when they are first diagnosed they are treated best on the clinical trials.”

Dr. Copur said oncology can change over night and using the newest treatments can be a major benefit to patients. However, only about 3-5% of adult cancer patients are enrolled in clinical trials. He said it is they mainly are used in big medical centers like UNMC in Omaha. But 85% of patients are treated at community based clinics.

He said over the last few decades the trials have made a big difference like with breast cancer treatment, for example.

“It was initially tested in the lab in phase one, phase two. I had that clinical trial on my priar affiliation we administered to patients. It made a huge impact of curability of the HER2+ breast cancers,” Dr. Copur said.

Each patient is screened when diagnosed to see what trials could be applied. Then a patient will have the chance to decide if they want the trial or any available standard care. Once the trial has had time being used on humans it is considered for standard care.

“To make a discovery in the basic science lab to the bedside as a medicine takes decades and the clinical trials is part of the bedside not the bench side,” Dr. Copur said.

He said having this option in Hastings and Grand Island can really make a difference for his patients.

“Now with the advances in science we have much less toxic drugs and are easily deliverable to the community setting. If these drugs are made available to our patients through clinical trials that would be a huge benefit to them instead of them going to, let's say, University of Nebraska in Omaha,” Dr. Copur said.

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