Cancer Survivor Calls for New Ways to Promote Trial Participation

TJ Sharpe

T.J. Sharpe, Cancer Survivor

“I’d be surprised if your husband was here in two years,” the doctor told T.J. Sharpe’s wife after his surgery for stage IV melanoma. That was five years ago next month.

Clinical trial practitioners have played a key role in helping Sharpe beat the odds, he says. “You and I can’t cure cancer, but we can help the people who can,” Sharpe says to those in the industry. “You are housing the data that can shorten time for [trial] implementation to get treatments out there quickly.”

Sharpe will be a speaker at the ACRP New York Metropolitan Chapter’s 9th Annual Clinical Research Symposium: The Clinical Research Landscape on October 27. “We think it’s critical to include the patient perspective,” says Halley Rogers, chair of the Education Committee for the Chapter.

Sharpe leads a campaign to promote clinical trial participation; however, he almost didn’t find a trial when he needed it most. His first doctor included information about them in a perfunctory way at the bottom of a long list of options. Worse, the information the doctor included was for trials that didn’t match Sharpe’s specific condition.

Doctors and others at the front end of the clinical trial experience need ongoing education to remind them that trials are an important option for many patients, Sharpe says. After addressing dozens of groups and meeting hundreds of patients afflicted by a wide range of medical conditions, he’s heard over and over that many patients didn’t even know trials can be part of their treatment plan.

To advance clinical trial participation, Sharpe suggests finding ways to connect potential subjects with those already benefiting from trials. “Their encouragement and their sharing of results before they were published kept me [researching] trials,” he says of his contact with study participants after his surgery.

Sharpe will share his own experience and offer other ways to advance clinical trial subject engagement at his ACRP Chapter session.

Author: Michael Causey