The opportunity to take part in clinical trials is something that most community hospitals are not able to offer their patients.
However, at FirstHealth of the Carolinas, the clinical trials program, which has been in existence for more than 25 years, provides local access to state-of-the-art medicine.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, clinical trials are scientifically controlled studies of the safety and effectiveness of a therapeutic agent using consenting human subjects.
“Basically, a trial can be used to test new equipment or devices to screen, diagnose or treat diseases,” says Matt Sherer, administrative director of FirstHealth’s Oncology and Clinical Trials programs.
FirstHealth currently offers trials in oncology, urogynecology and thoracic/lung trials.
“The oncology trials are through the National Cancer Institute and sponsored by the government,” says Charles Kuzma, M.D., a hematologist and medical oncologist with the FirstHealth Cancer Center. “We also have industry trials sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers. We offer screening and diagnosis trials, treatment trials and post-treatment trials. All current trials are for adult (18 and older) patients.”
According to Dr. Kuzma, clinical trials should be considered as a first option when related to treatment for a disease and not a last resort.
“We offer these trials in order to provide the most current treatments for patients and to further advance medicine to help future patients,” he says. “We provide these trials to ensure our patients can get cutting-edge treatments close to home.”
The national average for adult patients enrolled in clinical trials is only 3 percent. FirstHealth’s program enrolled 12 percent of patients in clinical trials in 2018.
“It’s important for the community to know that, while not all patients may qualify for a trial, we do have them available right here in Pinehurst,” says Sherer. “Our team does an excellent job of analyzing patients who may qualify for a trial and helping see if it is the right option for them.”
On May 20th, FirstHealth joined in celebrations for Clinical Trials Day.
Clinical Trials Day is a well-deserved ‘time out’ to recognize the people who conduct clinical trials and to say “thanks” for what they do every day to improve public health.
To learn more about clinical trials available at FirstHealth, visit www.firsthealth.org/clinicaltrials.