Finding Clinical Trials for Lung Cancer Treatment

male researcher in a lab
How can you find clinical trials for lung cancer?. National Cancer Institute, Rhoda Baer (photographer)

If you have been diagnosed with lung cancer, you may have heard that many new treatments are now available in clinical trials. But amidst the many trials worldwide, and given that every cancer is different, how can you find one that best meets your specific needs? The recent advances in lung cancer treatment and survival are wonderful, but the extent makes it extremely difficult for even a lung cancer specialist to know every option out there. Fortunately, you are not alone, and there are resources as well as volunteers that can help.

Clinical Trials for Lung Cancer

Clinical trials offer us the hope that a new medication or treatment will improve survival or quality of life to a greater degree than therapy that is currently available. According to the National Cancer Institute, most people with lung cancer should consider a clinical trial. But how can you find one? 

There is a great opportunity for people with lung cancer, but we'll get there. Your oncologist may suggest a clinical trial, or you may wish to look up trials on your own. Resources for finding clinical trials include clinical trial databases, as well as matching services (specialists can assist you in locating a clinical trial depending upon your diagnosis and your desired location for treatment).

Before learning more about clinical trials it can be helpful to learn about the pros and cons and questions to ask, as well as the different phases of clinical trials, for example, if a clinical trial is a phase 1 trial done on just a few people to determine safety, or a larger phase 3 trial looking at thousands of people. Keep in mind that research in medicine is changing. Whereas in the past, phase I trials were thought of as "last ditch" trials, there are now many people with lung cancer living only because of these trials.

The fact that you made it to this page means that you are taking an active part in your health. Being an active member of your healthcare team is not only helpful but essential in our changing world. Take a minute to learn a little more about researching your lung cancer online, as well as tips on being an advocate for yourself in your cancer care.

Clinical Trial Matching Services

Until only recently, people either had to depend on their oncologist to be an investigator in a specific clinical trial, or to refer someone for a trial.That's changing, and so is the sheer number of trials designed to find new treatments for lung cancer.

As a quick summary of how rapidly progress is being made with lung cancer, the treatments available for lung cancer have more than doubled since 2011. For those who have certain genetic abnormalities in their cancer cells, lung cancer can sometimes be treated as a chronic disease. Some immunotherapy drugs have resulted in dramatic responses for even those with the most advanced tumors. But the first drug in this category was only approved in 2015. .

Keep in mind that each of those new treatments began as a clinical trial, and in each of those trials, people had the opportunity to use a treatment that was better than what was otherwise available at the time. Now, combinations of immunotherapy drugs are being studied in clinical trials and offer hope that even more of these cancers can be controlled. For the first time ever, oncologists are even wondering if some people with stage 4 lung cancer may be cured. In addition, new targeted medications are being studied for previously untreatable gene mutations.

Unless you are an expert at navigating medicalese on the web, using a clinical trial matching service is a great opportunity. It still is, even if you research on your own. And it's free.

Several lung cancer organizations have put together this personal, free, and confidential matching service just for people with lung cancer. You can speak with a clinical trial navigator on the phone or a complete a form online to learn about clinical trials that may match your particular situation.

The Emerging Med Navigator allows you to search over 10,000 clinical trials in the United States and Canada online or by telephone. A matching service is also available; complete a detailed profile to see if you match with any of these studies. A clinical trials specialist contacts you free of charge by telephone to answer questions during your search and to help you get in contact with the physicians conducting the studies.

Clinical Trial Databases

Clinical trials databases are available online and allow you to access a multitude of clinical trials. A few of the largest include:

This directory is provided as a service by the National Institutes of Health and lists over 55,000 clinical trials. Trials for lung cancer can be found by searching under "lung neoplasm."

CenterWatch provides an international listing of clinical trials along with patient education information to assist you in your decision-making process.

The National Cancer Institute lists over 6,000 clinical trials that can be searched by cancer type and zip code (location trial is taking place).

The Lung Cancer Community

In addition to researching clinical trials through your doctor, through databases, and through a matching service, becoming involved in the lung cancer community is an excellent way to determine whether or not you are "missing" anything in your quest for treatment options or support.

The last decade has seen tremendous growth in the role people play in their cancer care. Many cancer conferences now invite survivors (via scholarships) to attend meetings. There are online support groups, Facebook groups, and even tweet chats on Twitter in which survivors, caregivers, and advocates can have direct conversations with the leading oncologists, thoracic surgeons, and more who are treating the disease, and researchers who are studying the disease. If you start looking around on social media, be aware of the hashtag #lcsm which stands for lung cancer social media, so you can find the right people.

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