Clinical Trial Awareness Month March 2012

Governor Susana Martinez declared March 2012 as “Cancer Clinical Trial Awareness Month.”.  During this month NMCCA provided the community with information about cancer clinical trials. Only 3 percent of adult cancer patients in the United States participate in clinical trials.  This is far fewer than the number

needed to answer the most pressing cancer questions. Some of the barriers for the general public to participate in a clinical trial include:

  • Lack of awareness of clinical trials.
  • Lack of access to trials.
  • Fear, distrust, or suspicions of research
  • Practical or personal obstacles.
  • Insurance or cost problems.
  • Unwillingness to go against personal physician’s wishes.

A survey of almost 6,000 people with cancer showed that 85 percent of people with cancer were either unaware or unsure that participation in clinical trials was an option, though 75 percent of these people said they would have been willing to enroll had they known it was possible.  Of those who were aware of the clinical trial option, most declined to participate because they believed common myths about clinical trials.  They either thought that:

  • The medical treatment they would receive in a clinical trial would be less effective than standard care.
  • They might get a placebo
  • They would be treated like a “guinea pig”
  • Their insurance company would not cover the cost.


People who participated in a clinical trial said they were treated with dignity and respect and that the quality of care they received was “excellent’ or “good” and 86 percent said that their treatment while on a clinical trial was covered by insurance.

During Clinical Trials Awareness Month, NMCCA plans to address these issues by visiting our participating sites to share more information about clinical trials.  We will focus on raising the public’s awareness and educating them about cancer clinical trials, what they are and are not, the possible benefits of participation, the mechanisms in place for patient safety,  the availability of trials in New Mexico, the insurance coverage law in the state, encouraging people to take an active role in their health care options, and recognizing cancer clinical trial participants.  NMCCA will continue throughout the year to heighten the awareness of cancer clinical trials.

Source:  “The Basic Workbook.”  National Cancer Institute.  September 2002.