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Clinical Trials Offer Hope to Local Patients with Cancer

Clinical Trials Offer Hope to Local Patients with Cancer

Through a partnership with UCSF Health, Washington Hospital is home to the UCSF - Washington Cancer Center in Fremont. One of the many benefits of this affiliation is academic-level care without traveling out of the area.

In addition to cancer diagnosis and treatment options, the cancer center offers access to clinical trials. Clinical trials are research studies designed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new drugs, treatment methods, or medical devices that may improve cancer treatment and patient care.

According to Clinical Research Coordinator, Maria Lopez, patients participate in clinical trials for various reasons. Some hope to benefit directly and some see clinical trials as a way to help future cancer patients. Lopez notes, “Many of those who participate may not expect a direct benefit but rather hope their participation will benefit others in the future.”

“Having these trials conveniently located in Fremont offers patients access to cutting-edge research testing new drugs and treatment methods while allowing the patients to stay close to home, rather than having to cross the bay,” Lopez says. “This is a significant benefit for patients with cancer who already may be overwhelmed with their cancer treatment or may be experiencing other issues related to their treatments.”

The criteria for selecting trial participants include such factors as age, gender, the type and stage of a disease, treatment history and other medical conditions. Participants typically are referred by their oncologist or surgeon. The staff then undertakes a rigorous evaluation of the possible participants to make sure they are appropriate for the study.

Clinical Trials Available Locally

Clinical trials for patients undergoing treatment for breast, colorectal, lung or prostate cancers are now open at the UCSF - Washington Cancer Center.

There are two main types of clinical trials: Observational studies and Interventional clinical trials. Observational trials collect data on participants in their normal settings. For example, a targeted group of individuals may be asked to complete health-related questionnaires on a regular basis. Interventional clinical trials take some action to prevent, treat, or better understand a disease. Researchers may be testing the safety and efficacy of a new drug or medical device. Trials also can evaluate whether the treatment is useful for other conditions or if it has any long-term side effects.

The interventional clinical trials currently open at the UCSF - Washington Cancer Center include two for breast cancer, one for colorectal cancer, three for lung cancer and one for prostate cancer. A fourth lung cancer study is observational in scope and focuses on local patients 65 years or older who have lung cancer and will be starting a new treatment. The purpose of this study is to learn more about how older adults tolerate lung cancer treatment and how treatment affects their daily lives.

These current clinical trials are part of larger studies, many national in scope, under the guidance of UCSF Health and the National Cancer Institute. Total enrollment can run from 100 to 1,000 or more patients and these studies are closed to enrollment only when they reach the targeted number of patients. More detailed information about each of the studies can be found on the Washington Hospital website at

Interested participants should check available trials on a regular basis. “New trials are added and ongoing ones are closed periodically, so a patient who isn’t a match today might be one in six months,” Lopez says. For example, the UCSF - Washington Cancer Center has recently been accredited to conduct radiation trials, expanding the center’s scope of available clinical trials.

The length of clinical trials can also vary. According to Lopez, “Some can be as short as 18 months or as long as 10 years. Participation is voluntary and patients can withdraw at any time for any reason and withdrawal won’t affect their ongoing treatment or care. Our main goal is to care for all of our patients.”

At the UCSF - Washington Cancer Center, providing high-quality care for patients with cancer includes state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment technology, experienced and caring physicians, and a clinical staff who provide exceptional care in a warm, comforting environment. For more information about the cancer center, visit