Participating in clinical trials is the key to advancing treatment for thyroid cancer patient. Here we answer questions our patients commonly ask about investigational treatments for thyroid cancer.
I am a patient living with advanced thyroid cancer and I am trying to find information regarding clinical trials that I may be able to participate in. Where should I start my search?
A good first step is to explore clinicaltrials.gov. This is a registry of clinical trials maintained by the NIH on all current clinical trials in the United States. You can search for thyroid cancer and refine the list of studies. Emailing the Principal Investigator listed for a trial is a good first step, and if possible you may want to consider seeing a physician at the institution that is conducting the trial. We also recommend that patients speak with their oncologist or endocrinologist to help guide them to trials that may be appropriate for them. See the list of patient resources for patient advocacy groups such as ThyCA which do a great job collating information for patients.
How do I know if I am eligible for a particular clinical trial?
Each trial will have a set of eligibility criteria that are clearly defined. These criteria are listed with clinicaltrials.gov. If you don’t know whether you would be eligible you may want to review the criteria with your current endocrinologist or oncologist who can help advise you. An initial consultation at a hospital where the trial is open is also a reasonable consideration, since the physicians enrolling patients will be able to review your particular situation and help determine whether you are eligible for the trial and whether it is in your best interest.
The only trial that I would be eligible for is hundreds of miles away from my home. Is it possible to participate in clinical trials at hospitals that are far away from where I live?
Participating in clinical trials requires a significant commitment in time and energy. Patients do elect to travel to hospitals to participate in clinical trials, but this decision should be carefully weighed with the physicians at the trial site. In some cases there are funds available to help defray travel and lodging costs associated with participation.
The only clinical trial that I would be eligible for is a phase 1 study. Is this worth participating in?
The answer depends on the exact clinical circumstances, but many patients find participating in phase 1 studies to be rewarding, and some patients experience a clinical benefit, though this is rare. Some phase 1 studies are designed to allow patients to transition to a phase 2 portion, so this is worth exploring.