Only 750 men will be chosen nationwide for a prostate cancer clinical trial and Dr. Mark Fesen wants local residents to be aware of the possibilities.
Dr. Fesen is a medical oncologist at Heartland Cancer Center, which is owned by St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center. He is one of the oncologists in central Kansas representing Salina-based Central Care Cancer Center.
Local access to clinical trials is available here because St. Rose is a member of the Midwest Cancer Alliance, the outreach arm of The University of Kansas Cancer Center.
The clinical trial is designed for men with high-risk prostate cancer. It will compare the use of chemotherapy and hormone therapy prior to surgery with immediate surgery.
“The standard treatment is surgery,” Dr. Fesen said. “The study could be referred to as standard treatment that has potential to have better results. In this case, the ‘standard’ is surgery and the ‘better’ is chemo and hormone therapy, and then surgery.”
Men who are selected for the study will be randomly split into two groups. Half will have chemo and hormone therapy before surgery. The others will have surgery right away. Neither the patient nor the doctor may choose a group.
Those who have chemo and hormone therapy will undergo surgery within 60 days after completion of that treatment. And those assigned to the other group will undergo surgery within 60 days after beginning the trial.
The goal is to determine which treatment results in a better outcome.
“A good candidate is someone who is otherwise in good health and able to be proactive in his medical care,” Dr. Fesen said. “In addition, he should not be undergoing treatment for any other active cancer.”
The first step for anyone interested is to call Heartland Cancer Center, 204 Cleveland, and ask for Cathy Huber, clinical trial research nurse. The number is 620-792-5511.
“Cathy will collect detailed information that we must have – some verbally and some in writing,” Dr. Fesen said. “This information helps us determine if someone is a good candidate for the study.”
Ultimately, Dr. Fesen emphasized, the decision to participate rests only with the patient.
“People choose a clinical trial because they believe it is their best treatment option,” Dr. Fesen said. “A trial allows people to receive medical treatment under the care of cancer experts in their community. Participants also are helping others by contributing to cancer research.
“Yes, there are risks that must be considered,” Dr. Fesen continued. “Since a trial is designed to answer questions, doctors do not know exactly how it will turn out. However, if the research team believes a patient is at risk, they will immediately take him out of the trial.”
Dr. Fesen noted that he, along with Midwest Cancer Alliance Medical Director Dr. Gary Doolittle and others helped lay the groundwork for this local access to research studies over the last decade.
“Everyone has worked hard to allow residents of Barton and surrounding counties to have as much treatment close to home as possible,” Dr. Fesen said. “We hope to expand into other studies; there are many more out there.
“When patients and their families learn more about the trials and how advances in cancer research are made, they can benefit early on,” the oncologist added.
The University of Kansas Cancer Center earned National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation in 2012.