University Hospital & Clinics and Cancer Center of Acadiana are seeking male and female volunteers ages 18 years and older who have been diagnosed with a specific type of breast cancer to participate in a new clinical trial.
The research study will assess the effectiveness of a new, experimental type of cancer therapy and will compare its efficacy with other agents commonly chosen by physicians to treat metastatic breast cancer patients with germline BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, which are harmful genetic mutations that can produce a hereditary breast cancer syndrome in affected families.
“Part of the clinical trials is based on treatment of patients who have the BRCA mutation, which is the gene that predisposes people to increased risk of developing breast cancer,” says Dr. Windy Dean-Colomb, director of oncology and oncological research at UHC, who will be the principal investigator for the study.
“We think it’s a really great trial for UHC because a lot of our patients who have cancer are young women,” says Colomb. “A lot of them have a strong family history [of breast cancer], so they may have the mutation, but a lot of our patients don’t have the insurance that covers this $5,000 test, so this allows them the opportunity to get the BRCA test done because the trial will pay for it.”
This study is a Phase III clinical trial and treatment is now offered in the standard of care at UHC. Phase III trials are the final confirmation of safety and efficacy and are given to large groups of patients to confirm effectiveness, monitor side effects, compare it to commonly used treatments and collect information that will allow it to be used safely.
“When a patient has progression of their cancer when we’re looking at potential treatment options, the standard of care is to consider clinical trials,” says Colomb. “Before, patients didn’t have the option of a clinical trial here. So after seeing new patients that have progression of the breast cancer, one of the first things I’m thinking about is if there is a clinical trial that we have available for them.”
The end results from this study, which can take several years to complete, can help to improve patient care and disease prevention as well as help to expand knowledge about the best ways to treat cancer.
“It opens up an avenue of cutting edge treatment for them, but it also allows our patients here to have the ability to get tested for the genetic mutation that causes a lot of breast cancers,” says Colomb. “We think it’s a great program for UHC and we’re really hoping in the future to open up more and more clinical trials.”