Significant changes have been made to clinical trials in the last several years. The internet, including websites like CenterWatch, has helped inform patients about clinical trials. Clinical trials have also been streamlined as researchers realize they do not need thousands of patients in the early phases of trials to discover if a medication works or not. Large blockbuster trials are becoming less common and are sometimes broken up into smaller, more individualized trials.
In cancer trials, personalized medicine is being utilized more frequently, sometimes targeting a tumor based on its genetic makeup. In some trials researchers are combining new and older therapies to see what works best for the patient. In the past, clinical trials were often viewed as a last resort for cancer patients. Investigational drugs are now explored as an option earlier in treatment. New cancer drugs can be less toxic and more effective than older treatments alone.
There will be an estimated 1.6 million new cases of cancer in the U.S. this year alone. Only 5% of adult cancer patients are enrolled in clinical trials. The lessening of federal research funds combined with the low percentage of clinical trial participants means that less discoveries are being made in cancer research. As more is discovered about cancer the greater the need is for continued research.