SCLC: When Is a Clinical Trial Appropriate?

Physicians discuss when to provide a patient with advanced small cell lung cancer the option to be treated within a clinical trial.
PUBLISHED May 07, 2019


Transcript: 

Philippa Cheetham, M.D.: Final question. We’ll talk about this in a later segment. The clinical trials for treatments for lung cancer. You’ve talked about surgery, radiation. At what point do you bring up clinical trials, is it usually a discussion for all patients, or do you reserve that for patients who have failed the conventional therapies?

Edward Kim, M.D., FACP: The importance of clinical trials is something I believe in. We have over 400 trials at our institution.

Philippa Cheetham, M.D.: For lung cancer?

Edward Kim, M.D., FACP: Not just for lung cancer, for all of them. But many of them overlap because it may not be a specific trial for lung cancer. But, for instance, one of the more popular areas of study is to look at patients who have received immunotherapy and now have immunotherapy resistance. So now there are drugs coming out either as single agents or combinations that are looking at immunotherapy resistance and trying to regain sensitivity. And you can imagine the multitude of tumor types that have been treated with immunotherapy.

Philippa Cheetham, M.D.: Right, yes.

Edward Kim, M.D., FACP: And now small cell is one of those. So those are trials that are great things to participate in. It will help us learn. One has to be very altruistic when they enroll in a clinical trial because you are trying to help other people with treatments down the road. And you hope there’s a little bit of help in there for you as well. But there is still a very active amount of clinical trials in small cell, so absolutely you should ask your primary care, your physicians about clinical trials. We know that there are different centers that have limited numbers versus not. You can find resources on clinicaltrials.gov. You can ask an expert. Gosh, many of us have our email [addresses] online, and people can reach out or reach out to Twitter or one of the social media areas. There are so many patients who are on these different platforms, that they can help tell you about what an exciting trial is, and again, that’s all perception, but something to explore. And it’s tough, as you said earlier, to travel to places. So maybe it’s not the option for them now, but at least they know there’s an option out there.

Philippa Cheetham, M.D.: I think that a final comment on the clinical trials is lots of patients assume trials are reserved for patients who are not doing well. But we’re using so many clinical trials to look for early stage disease, confined disease, and to look at different combinations with these newer drugs. To summarize, it seems that we know that small cell carcinoma of the lung is potentially very aggressive and may have even already spread at presentation. But listening to you today talk about the treatment options, the future really is very bright for patients even with these potentially very aggressive tumors that may have spread well beyond the lung. And it’s really exciting to hear about the developments that are now being used in clinical practice every day.

Edward Kim, M.D., FACP: Yes, we always like to have options and certainly patients like to have options. And we finally have those for patients who are diagnosed with small cell.

Philippa Cheetham, M.D.: It must be a full time job just trying to keep up with all the new studies and research that’s coming out. Thank you so much, Dr. Kim, for giving us all the information today.

Transcript Edited for Clarity

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