Hundreds of clinical trials throughout the United States are currently being held to evaluate immunotherapy drugs as new treatments for melanoma, in combination with other strategies or as new uses for existing treatments. New participants are needed for these studies to succeed, but many patients are fearful of participating in clinical trials. Health care professionals can be instrumental in influencing and encouraging patient participation.
Encourage Patients to Try Clinical Trials
Offer these reasons for why a patient should consider participating in a clinical trial:
- A clinical trial may offer a worthwhile alternative to a treatment that is not working as well as expected.
- A clinical trial may significantly improve the patient’s quality of life. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of participating, especially addressing any concerns about side effects.
- Tell patients they will not only help identify treatments that work, they’ll help eliminate those that don’t. Patients likely don’t realize the integral role they play in helping refine and improve the way millions of people with all types and stages of melanoma are treated.
- Educate them about how treatments become approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by telling them every treatment available today went through clinical trials to get FDA approval.
- Assure your patients that they will be treated with dignity and respect and will receive the highest quality of care for melanoma.
To be eligible for an immunotherapy clinical trial, a patient must have a properly functioning immune system. In addition, the patient must meet certain eligibility criteria (cancer type, overall health, treatment history, etc.).
Current clinical trials using immunotherapy for melanoma with open recruitment as of September 16, 2016, are displayed in the Immunotherapy for the Treatment of Melanoma for Health Care Professionals. Each trial listed is categorized as “cancer immunotherapy” on www.clinicaltrials.gov.
Encourage patients to keep researching available trials, especially if they locate a clinical trial that is not recruiting in their area. Remind them that new studies and new phases are happening all the time.
Share this information with your patient and explain how to learn about a specific trial with these instructions:
 Visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.  Enter the trial record number into the search box located at the top of the Web page. The trial record number is a unique identification code assigned to each clinical study.  The trial will be “Recruiting” or “Not yet recruiting,” which means the studies are either actively looking for participants or getting ready to look for participants.