Clinical Trials & Research

Clinical trials are research studies designed to find better ways to treat cancer and help cancer patients.

As you and your doctor consider your options for treatment, you may wish to consider participating in a clinical trial. The results of these trials help your doctor change the way he or she treats cancer to provide the best treatment possible. Clinical trials test many types of treatment such as new drugs, new combinations of treatments, new approaches to surgery or radiation therapy, or new methods such as vaccine or gene therapy.

Today, cancer research is no longer conducted exclusively at large university cancer centers or major metropolitan hospitals. Community-based oncology practices such as Minnesota Oncology play a critical role in the development of new treatment options for patients. Minnesota Oncology physicians believe clinical trials are an important component of cancer care and are crucial for improving cancer treatment. Our physicians review the results of these trials continually and change the way they treat your cancer based on these results.

Minnesota Oncology patients have many options when it comes to clinical trials through the US Oncology network as well as our partnerships with the Metro-Minnesota Community Clinical Oncology Program and Allina Health.

US Oncology Research
Supported by McKesson Specialty Health and the US Oncology Network, US Oncology Research draws from a network of experienced investigators and dedicated clinical staff who specialize in oncology clinical trials. US Oncology Research serves nearly 70 research sites and approximately 240 locations managing about 225 active trials at any given time. Physicians in the research network have enrolled more than 57,000 patients in nearly 1,300 trials since inception in 1992 and have played a role in 48 FDA-approved cancer therapies, nearly one-third of all cancer therapies approved by the FDA to date.

​​​​​​Metro-Minnesota Community Oncology Research Consortium (MMCORC)
The ​​​​​​Metro-Minnesota Community Oncology Research Consortium (MMCORC) is a nonprofit research program sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and participating hospitals and clinics. This program provides people in our community access to the newest therapies available for cancer treatment, management of treatment side effects and disease symptoms, and cancer prevention.

The MMCORC consortium represents an established community program that began in 1979 through a NCI-funded Community Hospital Cancer Program (CHCP) Award. In 1983 we received one of the initial National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) grant awards and have been funded by NCORP grant funding since then.

Currently, the consortium represents 21 hospitals and clinics Minneapolis, Saint Paul and the surrounding suburbs as well as Stillwater, Hutchinson, Willmar, New Ulm and New Richmond. More than 160 physician investigators participate, representing medical oncology, radiation oncology, surgical oncology, neurosurgery, thoracic surgery, gynecologic oncology and pulmonology.

Purpose of Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are a critical component in expanding treatment options for people with all types of cancer. Because all new therapies must be evaluated through clinical trials, the greater the number of people who participate, the faster emerging anti-cancer therapies can be brought to patients. Clinical trials are also important because they offer hope to people with cancer by providing access to promising new therapies not yet available outside the study.

Process of Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are designed by physicians and researchers and are conducted according to strict scientific and ethical principles. Before the study begins, a protocol is developed describing what will be done in the study, how it will be conducted and why each part of the study is necessary. This research protocol is reviewed by third-party experts to make sure that study is conducted fairly and that patients are well-informed of their rights. Each study has eligibility criteria for who can or cannot participate in the study, which may include type of cancer, age, gender, medical history and current health status.

Benefits of Clinical Trials

  • Patients have access to promising new therapies not yet available outside the study. These therapies are being studied because doctors hope they will prove more effective or less toxic that the standard treatment.
  • Patients can play and active role in their cancer care by expanding their treatment options.
  • Patients who participate in clinical trials receive first-rate medical care during the trial and throughout treatment. Their overall health is closely monitored.
  • By participating in clinical trials that can help bring new treatment to market, patients are contributing to the greater knowledge of cancer that may help other cancer patients in the future.

Risks of Clinical Trials

  • Participants in randomized studies will not be able to choose the approach they receive.
  • Health insurance and managed care providers may not cover all patient care costs in a study.
  • Therapies under a study are not always better that the standard care.
  • New treatments may have unknown side effects or risks.

Participation in Clinical Trials

Patients considering participation in a clinical trial will receive important facts about the study’s purpose and what is involved, such as the tests and other procedures used, possible risks and benefits. Should a patient decide to participate, he or she will be asked to sign a written consent form that outlines the details of the study prior to beginning the trial. However, participation in the trial is completely voluntary and patients may stop at any time.

If you would like more information, speak to your physician about the available clinical trials.