Extra Tests Not a Deterrent to Experimental Cancer Therapy

Some patients in clinical trials willing to undergo up to 2 tumor biopsies per study, researchers find

FRIDAY, March 4 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer patients are willing to tolerate multiple needle pokes, X-rays, ultrasounds, PET and CT scans to receive advanced experimental treatments in early-stage clinical trials, with some even amenable to extra tumor biopsies, according to a new study.

The finding from interviews with 61 patients with advanced cancer suggests a promising future for personalized medicine, in which doctors use specific treatments based on the genetic makeup of patients' tumors.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale Healthcare and the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Arizona, appears online and in the July 15 print issue of the journal Cancer.

"This is the first study of its kind where patients themselves were asked what tests and medical imaging studies they would be willing to undergo while participating in clinical studies for their cancer. Patients also were asked how invasive they perceived such tests and studies [to be]," lead author Dr. Raoul Tibes, a physician-scientist for the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, said in a Translational Genomics Research Institute news release.

To gain a better understanding about the molecular aspects of cancer, scientists need to collect tumor samples and analyze images from tests such as CT, MRI and PET scans.

"What we learned is that patients are, in general, very willing to undergo additional, extra tests to participate in clinical studies," Tibes said.

The patients said they were most willing to undergo urine, blood, ultrasound, X-ray, echocardiogram, PET and CAT scan tests. They were least willing to undergo tumor and skin biopsies and MRIs. However, most patients were willing to give one tumor biopsy sample per study, and sometimes two per study.

"This is important information, because it tells us that we can design clinical studies that ask patients to give extra tumor biopsies. But we need to carefully judge how many biopsies we request and what molecular tests we do with the tumor sample," senior study author Dr. Mitesh J. Borad, M.D., associate director of phase 1 drug development at the Mayo Clinic, said in the news release.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about personalized cancer care.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: Translational Genomics Research Institute, news release, March 4, 2011

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