Michigan cancer patients can enroll in clinical trials at the McLaren Proton Therapy Center in Flint

The goal of eliminating cancer, while minimizing side effects, is ongoing as medical scientists continue research and development of new treatments. Some of that research is done through clinical trials. Clinical trials allow physicians to observe what new treatments work best and even help to improve current treatments for cancer patients.

“We can cure a lot of cancers today. This is a result of past research,” said Brian Yeh, MD, PhD.

The Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Flint and the McLaren Proton Therapy Center want to offer patients the most advanced treatment options. They offer clinical trials through the Karmanos Cancer Network and the Proton Collaborative Group.

Dr. Yeh is the medical director of network research for the Karmanos Cancer Network. In this role, he works with the network sites at each McLaren hospital to implement research and clinical trials for cancer treatments. The clinical trials that the network offers are multi-institutional, nationwide trials, which also include clinical trials that begin at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit.

According to Dr. Yeh, there are many reasons why it is important to offer clinical trials to cancer patients in Michigan. One reason is to make sure that Michigan’s patients are represented in the nationwide results.

“We want to be able to use the results of these trials confidently when we make decisions to treat our patients. Every state and every city’s population are unique and made up differently. This means we need to enroll patients from our population into these important studies,” Dr. Yeh explained.

Available Clinical Trials in Flint

Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Flint offers clinical trials for patients going through medical oncology treatments, receiving surgery to remove their cancer, or having radiation therapy. With the McLaren Proton Therapy Center in the same building, patients also have access to clinical trials that involve proton therapy.

“Right now, we are one of the most active centers in the country,” said Christian Hyde, MD, DABR, radiation oncologist and proton therapy specialist at the McLaren Proton Therapy Center. “It’s because of our network [the Karmanos Cancer Network] that we have a lot of patients throughout Michigan being cared for through clinical trials, from Petoskey down to the Detroit area and the larger cities in between.”

One study offered to eligible patients directly compares two therapies, photon and proton radiation, to determine which one has better disease control for prostate cancer patients and fewer patient-reported and physician-reported side effects.

“The patient must be willing to fill out annual surveys related to side effects, including bowel, bladder, and sexual function. We follow-up with the participating patients for ten years. They also need regular PSA check-ups over the course of those ten years,” Dr. Hyde said.

Another study available in Flint looks at the side effects of using proton radiation therapy for women with breast cancer. Investigators are looking to learn more about how effective and safe this treatment is in comparison to other kinds of radiation treatment.

The Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Flint and the McLaren Proton Therapy Center offer many more clinical trials.

“If a patient is interested, during their consultation we can explain to them and show them which clinical trials they are eligible for,” said Dr. Yeh. “We want to offer the best care for our patients. Being involved with clinical trials puts us on the edge of cancer research and cancer knowledge, and that allows us to give the best care for our patients, whether they are involved in a clinical trial, or not.”

For more information on the clinical trials through Karmanos, visit karmanos.org/clinicaltrials.