More than 750 clinical trials of potential new treatments for gastric cancer are now enrolling patients or are planning to in the near future, according to ClinicalTrials.gov. Participating in a clinical trial can provide early access to cutting-edge treatments—but with so many choices, finding the right trial can be overwhelming.
The Gastric Cancer Foundation is here to help. Our clinical trial navigator, launched in 2018, provides both online connections to clinical trials and one-on-one help from skilled navigators who can help match patients to the best trial for them. Working with a navigator is free, and it can simplify the process of finding and enrolling in a clinical trial, says Caroline Melendez, vice president of services for Carebox Healthcare Solutions, which manages the clinical trial navigator for Gastric Cancer Foundation.
“We don’t give medical advice, but we do help patients find trials specific to their situation,” Melendez says. “If patients qualify for a lot of clinical trials, it can be overwhelming. We can educate them, and help narrow down the match results to make it manageable.”
Patients can start the process in one of two ways: They can either fill out a questionnaire online and then receive their match results from a navigator, or they can request to be paired with a navigator by phone from the start. The navigator can help the patient fill out the questionnaire to ensure the most accurate information is collected, then provide a curated list of trials from the national database.
After the patient selects a trial, the navigator can provide contact information for the study sponsor. Navigators may also be able to step in if the patient doesn’t hear back after expressing interest in participating in a trial—a common obstacle, Melendez says. “If we have a path for escalation with the site or sponsor, we will reach out to help the patient overcome the barrier. If not, we may be able to help find additional contacts for patients to try.”
Navigators can work directly with patients or with caregivers acting on their behalf, Melendez adds.
More than 500 patients visited the Gastric Cancer Foundation’s online clinical trials navigator in 2021, and 37 patients worked one-on-one with a navigator to search for clinical trials, Melendez says. She encourages all gastric cancer patients to take advantage of the service, regardless of where they are in their care journey.
“Maybe a trial isn’t right for you now, but your situation may change, and you should be aware of all of your options. Trials open and close all the time, so you can reconnect with your navigator when needed and they will help update your questionnaire,” Melendez says. “We can provide ongoing support to make the process just a little bit easier.”
To try our free clinical trial navigator, click here.