Dr. Vandross

Knowledge is Power: The importance of educating patients considering clinical studies

Dr. Andrae Vandross, who leads NEXT – Austin, has always had an invested interest in science and research. NEXT Oncology provided him the opportunity to combine his inquisitive drive in the laboratory with his compassion in the clinic to help identify the next therapies to treat cancer patients. 

His highest priority in leading Phase I clinical trials is educating his patients and their families as they navigate the complex decisions associated with new treatment options. Dr. Vandross understands the importance of clear and comprehensive discussions for patients with advanced cancer to fully commit to any type of treatment, especially early phase clinical trials.

“All or most drugs have gone through this drug development process,” said Dr. Vandross. “We, as clinical investigators, know the pros and cons of drugs, and the importance of research to bring more tolerable, more effective drugs to cancer patients.”

He explains that patients, and their loved ones, have questions when making the decision to opt for clinical trials over the standard therapy.  He feels there is value to learning about new treatments.

“It is important to discuss options with patients, even before third or fourth standard therapies, to see of early phase clinical trials are warranted. And for some patients who have exhausted three or four standard therapy options and are not seeing positives responses, I believe it is in their best interest to be evaluated for clinical studies,” said Dr. Vandross. “I talk to physicians and patients about the benefits to clinical research, and at the end of the day, if the study isn’t right for the patient, they can go back to the standard of care options.”

Phase 1 clinical research is specifically designed to help treat patients with advanced cancer. However, to improve clinical research and be more inclusive to all patients, clinical investigators see the benefits of including patients in earlier stages of disease. And that often comes with questions.

Dr. Vandross says that he sits down with his patients to allow them to the opportunity to frontload their questions during the initial consultation at NEXT Oncology. He often sees additional questions and discussion during the consent process of enrolling in a clinical trial. This helps ensure that the exchange of information is accurate and comprehensive. And he encourages family and caregivers to be a part of the process.

Knowledge is power. Providing resources helps patients make informed decisions about research involvement, promotes understanding of the true benefits and risks of participation, and how research leads to drug development for other cancer survivors.

The most common questions are usually about the cost of enrolling in a clinical trial, receiving a placebo, schedule and type of treatment, and life/family balance. Dr. Vandross believes it is important to share as much information with his patients as possible so they can help continue the education about early phase clinical trials to others.

If you or a loved one as questions about clinical research or would like to learn more, please contact us at 210-580-9500, or contact us here.