At some point, most lung cancer patients will exhaust all approved treatment options and have to rely on the next clinical trial as a lifeline. In fact, because of these clinical trials there have been more treatment breakthroughs in the past 5 years than in the preceding 20 years.
Unfortunately, since the start of the pandemic, the numbers of people enrolling in clinical trials has decreased by as much as 70% overall, with cancer trials averaging a 30% decrease. The impact on less available clinical trials for cancer patients will be profound and in many cases is a matter of life and death.
Because we have so much still to learn about lung cancer, for some patients, new treatments may have the most positive impact. There is a misnomer that when a patient enrolls in a clinical trial that they always get a placebo or a sugar pill. The truth is that lung cancer patients will get the “best standard of care” or they may get treated with the new drug or combination of drugs.
There actually is some good news - because of COVID-19, many clinical trials are now changing their philosophy to “take the trial to the patient” to make clinical trials more accessible to more patients. When looking at clinical trials, it is important to make sure you understand what you will need to do to be part of a clinical trial, that you are comfortable with the requirements and find out how any new surge in COVID-19 resulting restrictions may affect the trial and impact you.