Cancer Clinical Trials Will Help Big Bend Residents

Posted at 6:03 PM, Oct 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-05 15:33:46-04

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- About 2 years ago, Florida's Capital City reached out to Dr. Karen Russell, a cancer and hematology specialist. Tallahassee was one of the few cities of its size without a center doing cancer research. 

Only 3% of patients with cancer diagnosis are enrolled in clinical trials. Dr. Russell knows there are useful questions that if answered can directly benefit these patients and others. The center needs patients to get the answers. For example, a lot of childhood cancers are now curable because over 60% of kids under 18 are enrolled on clinical trials. 

Everything experts know is based on what doctors learned from patients who chose to participate. Bringing trials offers people additional medicine and information about their condition. Dr. Karen Russell states,"To have a cancer center for a community, a big part of that is research because you're going to have patients who maybe you've done everything for them and you need a novel drug or you want to contribute to a general knowledge of how to take care of something."

Dr. Russell's big push is to enable adults with cancer to have access to clinical trials that they wouldn't otherwise have, and so far she is successful. She said one of the challenges of clinical trials is enabling people in the community to actually have access to them. People don't want to or can't travel for trials, so Tallahassee Memorial Hospital brought them to citizens of the Big Bend. 

The Tallahassee Memorial Cancer Center is associated with the University of Florida Health, which has helped the center establish itself, train physicains, and gain access to national and international trials.