Jun 16, 2022 3 Fast Facts About Cancer Clinical Trials

scientist working in laboratory

How RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey offer tomorrow's treatments today.

Cancer clinical trials often save lives. If you or a loved one needs treatment for cancer, here’s what you should know:

Fact #1 – You don’t have to travel to a nearby city, such as New York or Philadelphia, to access a clinical trial.

As New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, together with RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH), offers a wide range of clinical trials, many of which aren’t available elsewhere.

Patients may participate in a clinical trial either at an RWJBH hospital near where they live or at Rutgers Cancer Institute.

Howard Hochster, MD, FACP
Howard Hochster, MD, FACP

“We’ve integrated cancer care so that we’re putting the standards and expertise of an NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, as well as clinical trials, in all 12 hospitals in the RWJBH system,” says Howard Hochster, MD, FACP, Director, Oncology Research for RWJBH, and Associate Director, Clinical Research, for Rutgers Cancer Institute.

Fact #2 – Clinical trials have led to significant advances in treatment.

Treatments developed through these trials have helped tens of thousands of patients.

For example, Rutgers Cancer Institute:

  • Was the first to offer trials with specific immunotherapy drugs that worked for many skin cancers, especially Merkel cell carcinoma.
  • Participated in a trial for a first-line colon cancer treatment that led to excellent responses for a number of patients, making them eligible for potentially curative surgery.
  • Has pioneered immunotherapy treatments resulting in better management of many cancers, including renal cell cancer and bladder cancer.

“When I started out treating colon cancer 25 years ago, we had only one drug available, and it dated back to the 1960s,” says Dr. Hochster. “Since that time, we’ve developed three new chemotherapy drugs and five new targeted drugs for colon cancer, and all of them were developed through clinical trials. Now people are living with colon cancer, on average, four times as long as they used to.”

Fact #3 – Clinical trials are not a last resort.

“It’s important for people to understand that enrolling in a clinical trial is often an option for a first-line or early treatment,” says Dr. Hochster. “These trials are a way for us to give patients the latest treatments before they’re widely available. They offer tomorrow’s treatments today.”

To determine whether a patient would be best suited for a clinical trial or for standard care, each individual case is evaluated by a multidisciplinary team of cancer experts from throughout RWJBH and Rutgers Cancer Institute.

Rutgers Cancer Institute and RWJBH currently offer approximately 270 different clinical trials.

To learn more about clinical trials at RWJBarnabas Health and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, call 844-CANCERNJ.