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Breast cancer patient glad to help others through clinical trial

Monday, August 04, 2014

Vicki Wilson of Lititz is one of more than 700 WellSpan patients participating in nearly 250 clinical trials.

New drug compared to the current standard treatment

This time last year, Vicki Wilson of Lititz had completed six months of chemotherapy for breast cancer, and she was preparing for a grueling regimen of 34 radiation therapy treatments.

Today, however, she’s energetic and positive. She gardens, rides her quarter horse and trains two miniature horses to be therapy horses.

Wilson, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2012, visits Dr. Wilfred Layne and her radiation oncologist at the Ephrata Cancer Center every three months. Her prognosis is good.

Prior to receiving chemotherapy, Layne asked Wilson if she would be interested in participating in a phase III clinical trial, which compares a new drug to the current standard treatment. Patients must meet specific criteria and give their consent to participate in a clinical trial.

The clinical trial compares chemotherapy regimens with and without Anthracycline for patients with certain pathology testing results, according to Diane Noll, RN, clinical trials coordinator for the Ephrata Cancer Center.

The clinical trial program is part of WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital’s affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

“If I could advance medicine, save sisters, help mothers and daughters, I felt I had an obligation to participate in the clinical trial,” said Wilson, a 53-year-old mother of two.

“I didn’t feel that I would receive a lesser medication, or I was putting myself at risk,” she added. “Participating in the clinical trial gave me a good feeling.”

Wilson is one of approximately 700 patients who participate in nearly 250 clinical trials throughout WellSpan, according to Tara Moore, quality assessment specialist for research.

WellSpan clinical trials are currently being conducted in the areas of oncology, cardiology, neurosciences, orthopedics, emergency medicine and medicine.

“Clinical trials help us to develop better treatments,” said Noll. “Without clinical trials, we wouldn’t have the medications we do.”

Each clinical trial goes through four phases before it can receive approval for general use. With the different phases and information review necessary for each trial, it is often years before a procedure, treatment, or therapy receives final approval.

WellSpan has a strong track record of conducting sponsored projects and participating in clinical trials. The Emig Research Center at WellSpan York Hospital provides comprehensive central administrative services for all of WellSpan.

A research team works with physicians, nurses and patients to help facilitate enrollment in clinical trials, provide protocol therapy and detail collection of research data. Patients should check with their insurance companies to see if they cover clinical trials.

Wilson encourages other patients to participate in clinical trials, if they meet the criteria.

“It’s a great way to help others, and advance the field of medicine,” she said.

Wilson also praised the treatment she received at the Ephrata Cancer Center. “It sounds strange to say, but it was almost worth it to get breast cancer for the chance to know all the people who cared for me at the Ephrata Cancer Center. They are wonderful, caring and professional people.”

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