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Smart Health: Why clinical trials are important, offering patients cancer treatments close to home

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By Kristen Mees
St. Elizabeth Healthcare

St. Elizabeth Healthcare is at the forefront of cancer care in the Northern Kentucky area.

Its dedicated Oncology Team consists of nine medical oncologists, three oncologic breast surgeons, two gynecologic oncology surgeons, three radiation oncologists and four oncology research nurses.

The entire team participates in clinical trial research, offering patients access to a variety of cancer treatment options close to home. Currently, there are over 20 cancer clinical trials open to patients at St. Elizabeth.

Helping to find a cure
A clinical trial is a medical research study where patients volunteer to test new methods of prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment. Many clinical trial studies compare the standard of cancer care (such as chemotherapy) to new cancer treatments (such as immunotherapy). These studies explore new treatments that can offer fewer or reduced side effects and better outcomes for certain types of cancer.

“Without clinical research, there will be no cure for cancer,” says Dr. Daniel Flora, a Hematologist/Oncologist and Research Lead Physician in Medical Oncology at St. Elizabeth. “Over the last several decades, we have seen incredible progress in cancer treatments. All of these advancements could not be made without rigorous testing in patients to ensure these treatments are safe and effective.”

Benefits of clinical trials


When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, oftentimes the treatment plan includes “standard of care” – treatment that has been tested and approved to treat that specific type of cancer. Sometimes patients do not respond to the standard of care treatment or cannot undergo the standard of care treatment due to other health conditions. For these patients, clinical trials offer an opportunity to receive treatment which otherwise might not be possible.

Other benefits of clinical trials include:

• No additional cost – the cost of the trial is typically covered by insurance companies and the research study’s sponsors.

• Helping others – taking part in a clinical trial can help thousands of other patients have better and safer treatment options in the future.

• Access to new treatment – patients in trials can receive access to promising new treatments that aren’t yet available outside the study.

Each clinical trial has its own specific set of inclusion/exclusion criteria that must be met in order for the patient to be accepted into the study.

Quality of care

St. Elizabeth patients participating in clinical trials receive particularly close monitoring by a skilled care team as part of the trial study.

Keeping clinical trial patients safe is also a top priority. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and an institutional review board (IRB) made up of doctors, scientists and community members all meet to discuss the trial before it starts. They evaluate the safety and efficacy of the proposed trial before it is offered to patients.

Clinical trials at St. Elizabeth


St. Elizabeth has recently received several awards for quality of data and high accrual rates for clinical trials. St. E. is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation in accruals behind MD Anderson for the “ALTERNATE” breast cancer study.

For questions or additional information about clinical research trials offered at St. Elizabeth, please contact one of our oncology research nurses:

Kim Schmidt: (859) 301-9418

Sara Browne: (859) 301-4046

Darla Hehman: (859) 301-5473

Adrienne Snow: (859) 301-4038

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