I want to compliment The Gazette for the article on clinical trials in cancer in the health section on Feb. 27. The woman highlighted is a fine example of the courage and altruism of patients participating in new treatments. I am humbled to have known many of these everyday heroes in our midst.
I would like to clarify that these same trials are done in every hospital with and oncology service in Montana. One could write a story of a patient from Billings, Great Falls, Bozeman, Kalispell, Missoula, Helena and Anaconda (as well as Wyoming and Idaho clinics) getting the same new treatments. The Montana Cancer Consortium makes these treatments available as seen on the website mtcancer.org. The only hospitals not listed there are St. Vincent in Billings and Providence in Missoula, who have the same programs through their parent organizations in Colorado and Washington, respectively.
In addition, I would like to clarify that clinical trials involve not just targeted therapies, but tests of immunotherapy, chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, symptom relief, prevention and even no treatment at all when more harm than good will be done. The National Cancer Institute and many pharmaceutical companies have encouraged research in communities, even rural ones. In Billings we have participated since the 1970s. Every presentation I hear on a new cancer treatment concludes with a thanks to the patients and families participating in research, our brave neighbors.
Montana Cancer Consortium