Canadian cancer clinical trials network launches ‘Ask Me Campaign’

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Dr. Janet Dancey, Scientific Director of the Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network (3CTN) announced on Thursday the roll out of a new national campaign to raise awareness of cancer clinical trials in Canada ahead of International Clinical Trials Day on May 20.

The Ask Me Campaign will be introduced at more than 60 cancer centres across Canada and include hospital staff wearing “Ask Me” buttons, as well as posters and brochures placed in hospitals, she said in Toronto. These will be used to encourage patients to engage their healthcare team in a conversation about clinical trials and see if a trial may be a treatment option for them. The ultimate goal is to increase awareness about, and enrolment in, cancer clinical trials in Canada.

“We’ve seen a decline in enrolment in clinical trials in Canada, which is a trend that we are aiming to reverse,” said Dr. Dancey. “A big part of this is making sure the patients who are undergoing treatment for cancer are aware that world-class clinical trials are underway in their province, that they may be eligible to participate and that these trials may help them.”

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There are many positive aspects to cancer trials, both for patients and for society at large. Data show that patients treated in institutions with an active clinical trial program have improved outcomes. There also may be substantial drug cost savings for institutions, increased ability to recruit and retain world-class researchers and doctors and increased knowledge translation and innovation.

“The Ask Me Campaign is a great platform to raise awareness of clinical trials as we often hear from patients and families that they are not aware of the potential benefits of participating in a clinical trial”, said Sujata Pokhrel, Clinical Research Associate at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre. “By wearing the Ask Me about Clinical Trials button, we will promote a discussion about this potential treatment option between the patient, family members and their healthcare providers.”

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A 2011 report by Canadian Cancer Research Alliance showed that clinical trials in Canada are under threat, with patient enrolment in clinical trials on the decline. If studies are under-enrolled they may close, which means the research question is never answered, the trial may move to another jurisdiction, and Canadian patients may lose access to potentially cutting-edge care. 3CTN was established in 2013 to address this problem and ensure Canada remains a world-leading jurisdiction for academic cancer trials. – CNW

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