As a member of the UK Markey Cancer Center Research Network, The Medical Center at Bowling Green offers the most advanced cancer care available in the region to our patients. Our goal is to help them stay close to home for their care.
In December 2022, the first clinical trial study for Med Center Health cancer patients in Bowling Green was approved by UK Markey Cancer Center. This exciting affiliation allows patients to participate in leading-edge care without the need of traveling outside of Bowling Green.
What are Clinical Trials?
Clinical Trials are research studies aimed at evaluating medical, surgical, or behavioral interventions to determine if a new treatment is safe and effective. Cancer clinical trials help to test and advance:
- Cancer prevention.
- New ways to find or diagnose cancer, especially at early stages.
- Discover new treatment options.
- Management of side effects from cancer treatment.
Research studies involve people of all kinds, including those who are healthy and those who are seriously ill. Most standard treatments we use today are the result of clinical trials.
Clinical Trials at The Medical Center
Before the opening of a study at The Medical Center, a Site Initiation Visit is conducted. The doctor or person who chaired the study at UK makes a short presentation of what the study is about, what it involves, and the pros and cons for the patients. Med Center Health staff – including the research coordinator, physicians and nurse practitioners – then seek out the patients who have the certain types of diseases the trial requires and who are eligible to enroll. That information is provided to UK and they decide if the study is approved to move forward at The Medical Center.
The first clinical trial at The Medical Center involves precision medicine personalized for lung cancer patients based on cancer-causing mutations found in the blood or tumor. Patients can receive targeted therapy specific to their mutation. The goal is to improve length and quality of life for many of our lung cancer patients while reducing harmful side effects that can be caused by normal chemotherapy.
Meet Our Clinical Research Coordinator
As the Clinical Research Coordinator for The Medical Center at Bowling Green, Tina Berger embraces the opportunity to provide an open door for patients who wish to be on the leading edge of cancer treatment.
“We want our cancer patients here in Bowling Green to be able to receive cutting edge treatment at home where they have support of family and friends, as opposed to having to travel outside their community,” said Berger.
Tina’s role as the Clinical Research Coordinator requires rigorous and ongoing training in the conduct of clinical study and research ethics to support the local availability of important clinical study. As a clinical research professional, Tina provides information about participation in clinical research and information about specific studies.
Tina works hand-in-hand with both Medical Oncology and Radiation Oncology. If a patient’s cancer and other medical assessments meet the eligibility criteria for a clinical study, and the patient wishes to participate, Tina meets with them to explain the study, making sure the patient understands the steps involved and the pros and cons.
One Patient’s Story
Richard Simpson, who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2022, learned he might be a candidate for a new kind of treatment that targets the DNA mutations in his tumor. He’d need to have a biopsy and biomarker testing to find out. His oncologist at Med Center Health, Dr. Catherine Heltsley, ordered a genomic analysis, which was sent to UK Markey Cancer Center’s Molecular Tumor Board for review. There, a team of experts met to discuss the genetic profile of his case and recommend a treatment. Simpson started a targeted therapy in February 2023 and by April 2023, the tumor was gone.
For many patients like Simpson, biomarker testing opens the door to targeted treatments that can be more effective and have fewer side effects compared to traditional treatments like surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Targeted treatments are the foundation of precision medicine, an approach to cancer care tailored to the specific genetic characteristics of an individual’s cancer.
Through Markey’s Research Network, Simpson is participating in a clinical trial that will examine the impact molecular tumor board review has in cancer patient outcomes.Read Simpson’s full story