Avera Medical Minute: Cancer clinical trial collaboration

Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 8:28 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - For some patients, traveling to a different town to receive medical care isn’t always possible. That’s why Avera aims to make sure they can get that care close to home.

One man appreciates that he doesn’t have to go far to get the treatment he needs, thanks to a collaboration between two medical facilities.

Bill Mains found out he had prostate cancer about three years ago.

Recently, it was suggested he try participating in a clinical trial.

For Bill, that idea was a no-brainer.

“So I said, ‘Yeah, no problem.’ It’s so important to be involved in research to make changes for the future,” said patient Bill Mains.

He is participating in the Caspar Study.

“Part of the trial qualifications is he had a diagnosis of having metastatic prostate cancer. One eligibility thing was he hasn’t had any treatment yet for metastatic cancer, meaning that this is a first-line treatment, the first time he’s ever had treatment once he’s developed metastatic disease,” said Dr. Mary Lee Villanueva, medical oncologist with the Yankton Medical Clinic.

In this study, Bill doesn’t know if he is getting the actual trial medication or a placebo. However, he is still getting the standard of care.

“I think the big thing that people don’t always understand is that we do lots of clinical trials that involve standard of care. They have the option of doing something that everybody else would get, but we might add a new treatment to that,” said Dr. Villanueva.

“And it may work, but you have to remember it may not, so for me right now, it seems to be working really well,” said Mains.

During a clinical trial, the patient is monitored very closely.

“It’s like you get a double look over, not only from your clinical team, myself, my nurses, my staff, but all the research team are looking to make sure if they are having side effects from the treatment, is it from the treatment? Safety is a huge thing,” said Dr. Villanueva.

In Bill’s case, he also meets with staff at Avera in Sioux Falls virtually, meaning he doesn’t have to travel far for care.

“The pharmacy helps down there. Their medications — they pick all that up. They get scans, labs, everything down there, and we communicate via phone if there are any questions or through that telemed visit when they come in,” said Brenna O’Bryan, RN and clinical research coordinator with Avera Medical Group.

It’s an option that is available locally thanks to the collaboration between the Avera and Yankton Medical Clinic.

“Part of Avera’s mission is care close to home, so if we can give them this type of care, and they don’t have to travel — a lot of patients don’t want to travel up to Sioux Falls or don’t have the means — we really try to help as much as we can,” said O’Bryan.

“If we don’t have research, we don’t have changes, we don’t have cures, so I was actually excited, and so was my wife because research in medicine and nursing is so important,” said Mains.

Clinical trials are available for many different types and stages of cancer. To see if you can be involved in one, check with your physician.

For more information on clinical trials, visit avera.org/medicalminute.