UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's Hospital

Clinical Trials

Clinical research trials enable doctors and researchers to find new and better ways to understand, detect, control and treat illnesses, including cancer. A clinical research trial is a way to find answers to difficult scientific or health questions.

St. Luke's participates in local and regional research studies, in collaboration with local doctors, to bring the latest medical advancements to patients in Cedar Rapids and surrounding communities. For example, in early 2016, the first North American patient to be treated with Radium 223 (Xofigo®) or placebo for a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis, started treatment at Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa (PCI), as part of an innovative clinical research study. PCI, St. Luke's and the Community Cancer Center play a role in the treatment.

All clinical trials are approved and reviewed by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) to ensure ethical and regulatory safety and compliance. Access to some of the latest treatments in cancer therapy is available locally through nationally approved clinical trials including NCCTG, NCI, SWOG, ECOG NSABP and CTSU.

A clinical trial may not turn out to be a patient's best option at a particular time, but the only way to decide is to learn about available studies and explore them at each window of opportunity.

If you would like to learn more about clinical trials, or to see if you qualify, please visit the links below or call (319) 369-7836.

Intraoperative Electron Radiation Therapy

St. Luke's offers Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IOERT) for early stage breast cancer patients through an international clinical trial. That combines surgery with an initial, concentrated dose of radiation precisely focused on the area where most breast cancers recur.

For more information about St. Luke's IOERT international trial, click here.

American Cancer Society

A searchable database for cancer clinical trials, is available through the American Cancer Society, you can search for available clinical trials in a patient's area based on their cancer type, treatment history and current condition.

Other clinical trials

Information about clinical trials from the National Cancer Institute

Clinical Trials Myths

Myth: A clinical trial is a last resort.

Fact: Some people think clinical trials are only a last resort after all other cancer treatments have been tried. However, clinical trials are often a good way to start treatment. Many patients aren't eligible for clinical trials if they've tried all other treatments.

Myth: Clinical trials are too risky.

Fact: Patients are watched closely by their doctor and other members of their medical team in a clinical trial. Trials are carefully monitored so if there is a problem it can be changed or stopped. All cancer treatment has risks involved. Clinical trials are the same.

Myth: Patients are given sugar pills.

Fact: Sugar pills are rarely used in clinical trials and are never used in place of treatment.

Myth: My doctor knows best.

Fact: It's important to discuss clinical trials with your doctor, who is an important and valuable source of information. Only you can decide whether or not you want to participate.

Myth: Patients are treated like guinea pigs.

Fact: In a recent study by the Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups, virtually every patient surveyed said they were treated with dignity and respect, the quality of care was good or excellent, and that the overall experience was positive.

Myth: Health insurance won't cover the costs.

Fact: Many insurers cover the normal costs of treatment on cancer clinical trials, and many states have mandatory coverage.

Myth: You need to be near a big hospital.

Fact: Most cancer clinical trials take place at community hospitals, local cancer clinics and doctor's offices.

Myth: Trials cost more than standard cancer treatment.

Fact: Not necessarily. Studies have found that routine care for patients in clinical trials is comparable to the costs for patients not in trials.

Myth: If I enroll, I must stay enrolled.

Fact: You are free to change your mind and not participate. You also have the right to leave a trial at any time for any reason, without giving up access to other treatment.