How Can We Overcome Hurdles in Clinical Lung Cancer Research?

By H Jack West, MD

People with lung cancer today benefit from a growing range of new cancer treatments that provide the promise of dramatic and long-lasting responses. Whether refinements in our chemotherapy, new targeted therapies, exciting immunotherapy strategies, or other novel agents or combinations, the development of these advances is exciting and based on the completion of important clinical trials. The investigators running trials of novel agents, as well as the companies developing them and the research groups helping to manage them, are eager to enroll on these studies and learn results that can potentially define new effective treatment approaches. Patients and families, of course, are also often eager to gain access to the latest new ideas and therapies.

And yet, despite all involved parties wanting to move quickly, the process of completing clinical research can be maddeningly slow. Trials can take MANY months to be activated as they work through committees and multiple regulatory steps developed to protect patients, slowing the pace of this burdensome bureaucratic process to a crawl. Once opened, trials are looking for patients, patients are looking for trials, but in many cases the trials take longer than hoped to enroll and demonstrate results. Less than 5% of patients with lung cancer enroll on clinical trials, which slows progress and means that, for many real world patients, the clinical trial research findings may not apply.

This week, for our upcoming #LCSM chat on March 24th at 8 PM Eastern, 5 PM Pacific, we’ll focus on the challenges we face from the many different perspectives of the various members of the lung cancer community, from patients and caregivers to community-based enrolling physicians, as well as the investigators writing and developing trials. Only by identifying these obstacles can we explore creative ways to overcome them. With these concepts in mind, we’ll cover the following questions for our chat:

  • T1: Clinical trials are highly regulated now due to prior shortcomings. Is level of regulation appropriately safe or excessive?
  • T2: Are patients informed about trials? Do docs discuss them, or do pts need to press for info? Are they readily available?
  • T3: Are trials too restrictive in eligibility? Do patients feel requirements are fair or keep too many people from participating?
  • T4:  What could investigators +/or trial sponsors do to raise interest & feasibility of more patients enrolling on LC trials?

The pace of clinical trials being completed sets the pace for our future advances. While we’ve added many new treatments in lung cancer over the past several years, there are others on the horizon. We hope you will participate to discuss how we can accelerate the pace of clinical research that leads to the advances in the coming years.

Information on how to join the chat can be found on the “Participate” page of the #LCSM Chat website (


Cancer Communication in the Social Media Age

Tapping into Twitter to help recruit cancer patients into #ClinicalTrials

Twitter: The Future of Clinical Trial Recruitment

HeroX Clinical Trial Innovations Prize

Trial Reach

Clinical Trials in Cancer, by Dr. Ramalingam: Trial Development

Learn About Clinical Studies (by the National Institutes of Health)

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