Section: Highlights

St. Jude Crosson Cancer Institute: New research brings life-saving advances

St. Jude Crosson Cancer Institute: New research brings life-saving advances

A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine described a new, more successful approach to treating advanced lung cancer. A landmark clinical trial demonstrated that in every measure from survival rates to quality of life, an immunotherapy — which helps the immune system recognize and destroy cancer cells — proved superior to the current standard of care, chemotherapy.

The St. Jude Crosson Cancer Institute participated in the groundbreaking research. “This trial will dramatically change the way many advanced or metastatic lung cancers are treated,” explains William Lawler, MD, priniciple investigator for for clinical research at St. Jude Medical Center, the only site in Orange County and one of the few in Southern California to participate in the study. “It’s another example of how we are using clinical trials to continuously push the edge in finding better, more successful treatments.”

Once viewed as a last resort for cancer patients with no other options, clinical trials are now often a first choice of treatment — allowing patients to benefit from new therapies years before those treatments become available. Clinical trials currently underway at St. Jude include promising treatments for nearly every type of cancer, from breast, lung, bladder, prostate, brain and stomach to leukemia and myeloma.

Recent progress, driven by clinical trials, has been impressive. “Not only are a growing number of cancers now curable, we are dramatically increasing the survivability of even the most advanced and aggressive cancers,” explains David Park, MD, medical director, Crosson Cancer Institute. Through partnerships with some of the nation’s top research consortiums, St. Jude is moving improvements from the laboratory to the bedside — while drawing patients from all over Southern California. “Often a patient will come to St. Jude for a clinical trial,” Dr. Park says, “and continue their care here because of the compassion and excellence they find here.”

Immunotherapies, like the one recently shown to improve lung cancer outcomes, are among the most exciting improvements in cancer treatment in decades, yet only a small handful of these therapies have finished the FDA-approval process — most are available only through clinical trials. “Until we find a cure for all cancers,” Dr. Park says, “Clinical trials will continue to offer some of the most innovative and effective treatment options available.”

To learn more about current clinical trials, including those enrolling new patients, please call our Clinical Research Department at (714) 446-5642 or our UCLA-TRIO Research Coordinator at (714) 446-7053.

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