The Vital Role of Clinical Trials

May marks a significant occasion in the medical community: National Clinical Trials Month and National Clinical Trials Day [May 20th]. It’s a time to recognize the invaluable contributions of clinical research to the advancement of healthcare. This month, as we acknowledge the progress made in various fields, let’s focus our attention on the critical role clinical trials play in ending cervical cancer—a disease that affects thousands of individuals worldwide. 

The Importance of Clinical Trials in Ending Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer remains a global health emergency, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives each year. Despite advancements in screening and prevention as well as through vaccines, many individuals still succumb to this preventable disease. Clinical trials serve as the cornerstone of progress in cervical cancer research. They provide a platform for testing new treatments, improving existing therapies, and enhancing our understanding of the disease’s biology.

In recent years, clinical trials have led to groundbreaking discoveries in cervical cancer treatment. From targeted therapies to immunotherapies, these trials have expanded treatment options, offering hope to patients who previously had limited choices. Moreover, clinical research has paved the way for personalized medicine approaches, allowing healthcare providers to tailor treatments based on individual patient characteristics, ultimately improving outcomes and reducing the various side effects.

The Role of Participation
Active participation in clinical trials is crucial for accelerating progress in cervical cancer research. Patients who enroll in trials not only gain access to cutting-edge treatments but also contribute to the collective knowledge that drives medical innovation. Each participant plays a vital role in advancing scientific understanding, ultimately benefiting future generations of patients.

Participating in a clinical trial can be a deeply personal decision, influenced by various factors such as medical history, treatment preferences, and access to care. However, it’s essential to recognize the potential impact of participation, both on an individual level and within the broader context of public health. By joining a trial, patients not only receive advanced care but also become partners in the quest to end cervical cancer once and for all.

Addressing Barriers to Participation
Despite the critical importance of clinical trials, several barriers exist that hinder participation. These may include lack of awareness, logistical challenges, concerns about safety, and disparities in access to healthcare. Overcoming these barriers requires efforts from healthcare providers, researchers, policymakers, patient advocates, and the community at large.

Education and outreach efforts are essential for raising awareness about clinical trials and dispelling misconceptions. Providing clear information about the purpose, risks, and benefits of trials empowers patients to make informed decisions about their participation. Moreover, initiatives to address logistical barriers, such as transportation assistance, financial support, and flexible scheduling, can enhance access to trials for diverse populations.

As we observe National Clinical Trials Month and National Clinical Trials Day, let’s reaffirm our commitment to advancing cervical cancer research through participation in clinical trials. Together, we can drive innovation, improve treatment options, and ultimately work towards the elimination of this devastating disease. Every contribution, no matter how small, brings us closer to our shared goal of a world free from cervical cancer. Let us stand united in the mission, embracing the hope that clinical trials offer for a brighter, healthier future.

Have you been on or are currently on a clinical trial? Are you willing to share your personal experience? We would love to hear from you! Email us today at [email protected].

Transcending Passion Into Purpose

When my chemo and radiation treatments ended in July 2013, I struggled to return to my normal life, including my career in agricultural field research. Physically, I no longer had the stamina to work in a corn field for up to ten hours a day. Mentally, I began to question if I was even passionate about my job anymore. I had just survived cervical cancer, so I didn’t want to waste another minute in a job that wasn’t fulfilling. I felt lost and knew I needed to find a new career path that would give me a better sense of purpose. 

I thought hard about what I was passionate about and how I could turn that into a career. I knew I was passionate about cancer advocacy but didn’t know how to apply that to a job quite yet. I found the field of cancer registry interesting but knew little about it. I thought about cancer registry off and on over the next few years but kept dismissing the idea of becoming a cancer registrar because it would require two years of schooling to become certified. 

Cancer registries are important because they reduce the burden of cancer on the community by improving patient outcomes and ensuring funding for public health cancer prevention programs. A cancer registrar is responsible for collecting, maintaining, and reporting cancer data on all cancer types diagnosed and/or treated within a hospital or other medical facility. This data is entered into a cancer registry system, or database, that is then reported to state and national cancer registries. 

Cancer registry data is used by many, including oncologists and other doctors to compare cases for treatment plans, researchers for clinical trials, public health officials for evaluation of cancer prevention programs, policymakers to determine state and national funding of cancer control programs, and cancer organizations for statistics (like the American Cancer Society). 

In 2020, amid the pandemic and working from home, I decided to go for it and enrolled in an online program to become a certified cancer registrar. I am now one year into the program and am enjoying every class I take. I feel like I have a sense of purpose that was missing.

Someone once told me that cancer registrars impact cancer advocacy, policy, and research. This is so true! Knowing that my future job will impact cancer in these ways is exactly the fulfillment I am looking for in a career. It may have taken an unexpected cancer diagnosis, a lot of personal reflection, and seven years to figure out a new direction for my career path, but by the Spring of 2023, I’ll achieve my goal of becoming a certified cancer registrar. You too, can start achieving your goals in 2022, by focusing on your passions with a willingness to persevere. 

Emily is an eight-year cervical cancer survivor who was diagnosed with stage 2B cervical cancer at age 30. After cancer, Emily didn’t realize she even had an advocacy voice until she attended her first Cervivor School in 2016. Today, she is a patient advocate and Cervivor Ambassador who shares her cancer story to raise awareness for ending cervical cancer and to educate others on the importance of cervical cancer screenings and prevention. Emily is the recipient of the 2020 Cervivor Spark Award and the 2022 Cervivor Champion Award. She plans to graduate with her certification in cancer registry in spring 2023.