The American Cancer Society reported earlier this year that the risk of dying from cancer in the United States has decreased by 32% over the past 28 years, which translates to almost 3.5 million fewer cancer deaths. Over these nearly three decades, cancer treatment options have increased immensely. For example, oral oncolytic medications now enable patients to receive therapies that target specific mutations in their tumors in pill form, replacing time-intensive chemotherapy infusions and minimizing side effects. New technologies, such as genome testing and artificial intelligence, have sharpened our view of cancer.
Research is the fundamental element that drives these advancements. After promising results are seen in the laboratory, medical breakthroughs then require careful research through closely monitored studies in humans, called clinical trials. These studies deserve credit for new treatments of cancers that were previously considered incurable.
More good news is that lifesaving cancer research is no longer exclusive to large hospitals or teaching institutions. Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute provides convenient access, close to home, to the latest and most advanced clinical trial options in 37 locations in 21 counties. Partnering with Sarah Cannon, one of the world’s leading clinical research organizations, FCS is part of a network that reaches more clinical trial patients than any single cancer center in Florida. In fact, the majority of new cancer drugs approved for use in the U.S. were studied in clinical trials with FCS participation, prior to their approval.
Across Florida, over 600 patients are treated each year at FCS in all phases of clinical trials, with over 140 new studies made available annually. Each year in Lee County, over 200 patients take advantage of the opportunity for early access to the newest and most promising treatments as participants in early phase, Phase 1, clinical studies coordinated by our Drug Development Unit in nearby Sarasota. Over 140 patients are treated annually in late phase clinical studies, coordinated by our south Florida region office in Fort Myers.
The FCS oncology care experts in Lee County are proud to play a key role in bringing more effective drugs to the marketplace through active participation in clinical trials. As more people take part in clinical trials, we will continue to expand the options to treat cancer and improve overall survivorship.