SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Coming up Saturday night, viewers will be able to watch the “Stand Up To Cancer” fundraising special on KELO-TV. Ahead of that this week, we’ve been looking at cancer research happening locally; you can find our reporting about Sanford Health here.
Avera clinical research manager Michaela Bertram says a clinical trial is a big part of cancer research at the health system. She explains that a clinical trial typically involves a drug taken intravenously or in a pill. What’s learned from one patient’s participation in a trial can inform the treatment that another patient might receive.
“Without clinical trials, new treatment options don’t become available, and so we really do need patients to consider and to participate in those clinical trials to move towards new treatment options,” Bertram said.
“We do testing of patients’ tumors to help us guide treatment selection and maybe find clinical trials for them, and that’s actually part of our research program is trying to implement that across a broad group of patients,” Avera oncologist Dr. Benjamin Solomon said.
Avera patients participate in clinical trials for all kinds of cancer. Solomon estimates that Avera has roughly 100 open trials.
“I’d like people to feel comfortable with asking their doctor about what studies may be available for them, because that starts a different conversation in a different direction from what we might already be talking about,” Solomon said.
Avera has Cancer Institutes in six communities, and clinical trials happen in most of them.
“We have the ability right now to do clinical trials at four of those locations, and the purpose of that is to break down the barriers as to why patients aren’t able to participate in clinical trials,” Bertram said. “Financial travel burden is a huge problem, and so we need to meet the patients where they are.”