Cancer clinical trials bring leading-edge care

September 26, 2017

Cancer clinical trials give Sanford patients access to leading-edge care today, while contributing to therapies of tomorrow.

Decades ago, access to clinical trials was out of reach to many cancer patients in the rural Midwest. The costs associated with traveling long distances to large academic centers, where most studies were held, were just too high.

But by offering more than 290 cancer studies, available to patients close to where they live, Sanford’s rate of enrollment has reached 10 percent, double the historically low national average of 3 to 5 percent.

Through its integrated network of 79 oncology physicians and countless nurses and staff across 250,000 square miles — an area roughly the size of Texas — Sanford is breaking through barriers that have traditionally limited clinical trial participation. This commitment, in fact, was recently recognized by the Association of Community Cancer Centers, which presented Sanford’s Sioux Falls clinical research team with the David King Community Clinical Scientist Award, recognizing it as a national leader in clinical trial accrual.


Why does this matter?

Clinical trials are not only one of the fastest and safest ways to bring the most advanced treatments to patients, but they are also critical to the development of new therapies and methods for early detection and prevention.

The standard of breast cancer care, for example, has greatly improved over the past 40 years due in large part to insights gained through clinical trials. Continued momentum depends on the dedication of researchers, physicians, donors who help fund this critical work, and of course, the participation of patients.


Leading the way in breast cancer research

The research team at the Edith Sanford Breast Center is dedicated to developing and bringing the most promising trials to breast cancer patients in the Sanford region. These studies are aggressively tackling the big questions that will make a real impact in people’s lives, including:

  • How can we leverage the immune system to fight breast cancer?
    Sanford is the first site in the nation to launch an advanced breast cancer trial from the Cancer Breakthroughs 2020 program. This trial is a groundbreaking immunotherapy vaccine study for those with advanced breast cancer.
  • At what age should women start getting screened for breast cancer, and how often?
    Sanford has been selected as the biospecimen repository for the national breast cancer study Women Informed to Screen Depending on Measures of risk, or WISDOM. Investigators are studying routine annual screenings and personalized screenings based on genetic information to determine which method is more effective in reducing false positives and misdiagnoses of breast cancer.
  • How can your DNA help fight breast cancer?
    Last fall, Sanford launched COMPASS, a clinical study focused on delivering cancer treatment options tailored to each patient’s genomic profile. Another Sanford study, ELSA, is monitoring changes in the DNA of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients to better understand the natural progression of cancer and help inform more effective personalized treatment approaches.

None of this work would be possible without the generosity of donors to the Edith Sanford Breast Foundation. Every dollar raised stays local to support cutting-edge technology, equipment, patient services and more.

This October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, support the cause by making a gift, participating in an event near you or joining TeamEdith.

To learn more about clinical trials at Sanford Health, visit sanfordhealth.org/clinical-trials.