Clinical Trials at Tammy Walker Cancer Center

The Tammy Walker Cancer Center's association with the KU Cancer Center through the Masonic Cancer Alliance makes many of the same clinical trials available at KU also open to patients in Salina.

New patients at the Cancer Center are screened to determine whether they are eligible to participate in some of the latest, most promising treatments available.

Melanie Leepers is the clinical trials nurse at Tammy Walker Cancer Center.

Learn more about clinical trials available to patients at the Tammy Walker Cancer Center by calling Melanie Leepers at (785) 452-7038.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a trial right for you?
A clinical trial is one of the final steps in a long and careful cancer research process that is looking for better ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat cancer. Clinical trials test new medical approaches in cancer patients, and are important to developing new treatments for cancer. Many of the "standard treatments" that cancer patients receive today were developed based on the results of previous clinical trials. A trial may involve a combination of drugs or a special schedule of treatments. Frequently, a clinical trial is the current, standard treatment or drugs that are combined with a new drug to boost effectiveness, making what's already good better. It is one of the most common types of clinical trials.

Are there benefits to participating in a clinical trial?
Clinical trial participants may have access to investigational drugs or experimental medical approaches. These may or may not be beneficial. Ultimately, people who take part in clinical trials contribute to future progress against cancer–helping to shape new approaches in the fight against cancer.

Are there risks in participating in a clinical trial?
A new treatment or medical approach becomes a clinical trial because it has shown strong promise in laboratory studies. Results in the clinic, however, may be different. The new therapy may not be better than the standard treatment or it may have unexpected or more difficult side effects. If the study is comparing different treatments, participants cannot choose which one they receive because they are randomly assigned to one treatment or the other. Also, patients should consider the costs of trial participation and determine what costs will be covered by their insurance or the study sponsor.

How are participants in clinical trials protected?
Clinical trials at Tammy Walker Cancer Center are conducted according to strict scientific and ethical principles. Every clinical trial has a plan, called a protocol, which describes what will happen in the study and why it is necessary.

Before a clinical trial begins, a committee reviews the protocol and approves it only if the clinical trial satisfies certain scientific and ethical standards. Depending on the trial, this committee may be Salina Regional Health Center's Internal Review Committee or the Human Subjects Committee at KU Medical Center. The people on these committees evaluate the scientific basis for the clinical trial, the risks to participants, and the information provided to participants about the trial. They can also stop a clinical trial that is not following the protocol or is causing unexpected harm to participants. They also can halt a clinical trial if the treatment being studied is very effective, in order to make it available sooner to patients who are not on the trial.

Most importantly, participants can choose to leave a study at any time–before the clinical trial starts or at any time over the course of the trial.

How will I know if I am eligible to participate in a clinical trial?
Eligibility criteria define who may participate in a clinical trial. In order to answer a specific question about a new approach to cancer care, variables such as age, gender, medical history, stage, and type of cancer need to be kept the same for all participants. Eligibility criteria define common characteristics, and help researchers achieve accurate and meaningful results. Eligibility criteria may also minimize the risk of a person's condition becoming worse by participating in the study.

What is informed consent and why is it important?
The process of informed consent gives patients the information they need to decide if they want to participate in a clinical trial. In the informed consent process, a doctor or clinical trials nurse will explain the purpose of the study, the tests and procedures involved, and the possible risks and benefits. During the informed consent process, you are encouraged to ask questions to be sure you understand all aspects of participation in the clinical trial. If you agree to participate, you will be asked to sign an informed consent document. You also may be asked to sign a new consent form as new benefits, risks, or side effects are discovered.

Are there trials close to home?
As a member of the Masonic Cancer Alliance, in conjunction with the University of Kansas, Tammy Walker Cancer Center now has a greater opportunity to offer trials to you, closer to home in Salina. For Melanie Leepers, clinical trials nurse and your physician, the patient's well-being is a primary concern throughout the research process. The research nurse is the person who advocates for patients as they go through their research experience.

How can I get more information about clinical trials?
If you have questions or are interested in clinical trials, contact Melanie Leepers, clinical trials nurse for Tammy Walker Cancer Center at Salina Regional Health Center. Or, talk to your doctor to find out if a clinical trial is right for you.

Melanie Leepers
Clinical Trials
(785) 452-7038

The following organizations provide general information about clinical trials:
Masonic Cancer Alliance (MCA)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
American Cancer Society (ACS)
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG)
American College of Surgeons Oncology Group (ACOSOG)