Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) was formed, in part, to bring promising new treatments to patients faster. For bone marrow transplant patients, this means more treatment options at SCCA than they might find elsewhere, including the chance to participate in one of many ongoing clinical studies conducted at SCCA and its founding organizations, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and UW Medicine.
Not all patients are cured with standard therapy, and some standard treatments may have more side effects than are desired. So patients may seek help through clinical studies. Patients who participate in these studies, also called clinical trials, have the first chance to benefit from treatments that have shown promise in earlier research. They also make an important contribution to medical science by helping doctors learn more about their disease and its treatment.
Clinical trials come in four phases. In Phase I trials, researchers try to determine safe dose levels. In Phase II trials, which involve a larger group of patients, researchers hope to build on what they learned in the first phase by trying to establish whether cancers will respond to the safe dose levels and to determine what side effects will occur. In Phase III trials, researchers compare the experimental treatment with the standard treatment or a placebo to prove whether the new treatment is truly effective. In Phase IV trials, researchers monitor the effects of long-term usage.