Clinical trials: help yourself & help others

FRESNO, Calif.

Every day Karen Anderson gets to spend with her daughter is a gift. She was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma and given six months to live. That was four years ago. Karen credits clinical trials for the extra time she's been given.

"I would not be here if not for the trials," Karen Anderson, a clinical trial participant told Action News.

Robert Breece's blood pressure was out of control. But with the help of a clinical trial it went from 225 over 125, to a much healthier 128 over 68!

"The alternatives if I didn't get the device implanted were probably next to none," Robert Breece a clinical trial participant told Action News.

Without people like Karen and Robert, advancements in medicine wouldn't be possible.

"If patients aren't willing to enter clinical trials, then we can't help. We can't show that these new approaches are working," Dr. Eric Hoffman, the Director of Research at the Center for Genetic Medicine, Children's National Medical Center told Action News.

"Often times drugs are offered free of charge as part of the trial. Then the only thing you have to understand is that you are doing something that ultimately will probably help you and help others with a similar style disease," Dr. Domenic A. Sica, M.D., a Professor of Internal and Nephrology Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University told Action News.

To find a trial, first ask your doctor. You can also check out these resources: The database has more than 117,000 current studies. has more than 8,000 actively recruiting trials. Check national newspapers and the websites of medical universities.

Patient advocacy groups like the American heart association can also help. Now on her seventh clinical trial, that's what Karen wants to do, help future generations.

"At some point, melanoma will kill me. You know at some point. But when it does, I want to know that I've done something so that you know another family doesn't have to go through this," Karen concluded.

Those considering enrolling in a clinical trial should know that whether a new treatment will work cannot be known ahead of time. It could even be harmful. Even so, researchers say you are closely monitored and can be taken off one trial and put into another until you do see some improvement. All trials are voluntary and you can leave at any time.

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