Although more Americans have become aware of colon cancer in recent years, one person still dies of the disease every nine minutes. Research shows the mortality rate will likely decrease if patients and caregivers have a better understanding of how to treat the disease. In fact, thousands of clinical trials are available for patients to try new, experimental and investigational drugs. But fewer than five percent of adult cancer patients currently choose to participate in them.
"For the first time, colorectal cancer patients will have the opportunity to be educated about clinical trials by someone who has just been in their shoes," said Amy Kelly, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the CCA. "We expect that the intimacy of this experience will encourage more patients to join trials. As more people participate, we will develop the necessary research to find the best treatments for the disease."
Since 1995, participation in clinical trials has declined due to long-standing fear, apprehension and skepticism. Doctors also may not mention trials as an option and access problems still exist. To help maximize the CCA's Buddy Program and address some of these problems, all potential mentors will undergo training to ensure that they can offer the most appropriate guidance. The clinical trial component will expand an existing program in which colon cancer survivors, their families and friends are able to speak to others who have "been there." These buddies provide a personal perspective on coping with side effects, treatment options, life after a colostomy and many other emotional issues. Those interested in learning more about the buddy program can visit www.ccalliance.org.
The CCA also has implemented additional educational initiatives as a result of feedback from patients and caregivers. This year the nonprofit plans to add live operators to its help-line, develop patient education materials in Spanish, distribute more free materials to doctors and hospitals, add more guest speakers to on-line chats, continue to grow its local chapter program, Voices, and expand colon cancer conference sites and locations throughout the United States. The Alliance also will make press kits available via their Web site for local groups or individuals wishing to promote National Colorectal Awareness Month.
The Colon Cancer Alliance
The Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA) is a national patient advocacy organization, with chapters located across the country, and the official patient support partner of Katie Couric's National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (NCCRA). CCA is dedicated to ending the suffering caused by colorectal cancer. The Colon Cancer Alliance brings the voice of survivors to battle colon cancer through patient support, education, research and advocacy. CCA invites any and all organizations, government agencies, members of the medical community and individuals impacted by this disease to add their voices by joining CCA in their determination to eradicate colorectal cancer. The Colon Cancer Alliance educational programs are made possible through corporate grants or charitable donations from Amgen, Antigenics, Bristol-Myers Squibb Oncology, Ethicon-Endo Surgery, Genentech BioOncology, GlaxoSmithKline, Inkine, Myriad Genetics, Pfizer, Roche, and Sanofi-Aventis. The Colon Cancer Alliance's toll-free helpline is 1-877-422-2030 or visit the Web site at www.ccalliance.org.