By J. Isabelle Choi, MD, Director of Research, Clinical Director
Two years ago, we opened the New York Proton Center with two parallel missions: to achieve unprecedented clinical outcomes while providing compassionate care for patients and their families, and to advance the science of radiation oncology with one of the strongest research programs in the industry.
In honor of International Clinical Trials Day, we are taking a moment to celebrate the progress we have made as an institution and, most importantly, the patients who have made it possible.
For many people, a shroud of mystery surrounds clinical trials. The name itself is unnecessarily intimidating and contributes to the lack of public awareness around what these studies are, how patients can enroll, and why they are critical to medical innovation.
Clinical trials are studies conducted among patients to assess the safety and effectiveness of new treatments. They are based on rigorous scientific analysis and are an essential milestone in the development of new drugs and therapies. These studies are open to anyone who is a candidate and interested in participating.
These studies have special importance in the field of proton therapy, a form of radiotherapy that has proven highly effective in improving the quality of life and reducing side effects for patients by limiting excess radiation to surrounding tissues and organs compared with traditional (photon) radiation therapy.
Despite the challenges of a global pandemic that made patient accrual for trials particularly difficult, 97 percent of our patients at NYPC are enrolled on innovative studies that have the potential to change the way we treat cancer in the future.
Further, NYPC has developed one of the most diverse proton therapy research portfolios in the country, including leading several national, phase III randomized studies directly assessing the efficacy of proton therapy compared to traditional radiation therapy.
These high-impact studies—across disease sites including breast, lung, esophageal, prostate, head and neck, brain, and liver cancers—are the first of their kind, and our team is proud to be leading the way in advancing this ultra-precise form of radiation that has the potential to significantly enhance the experience of patients undergoing treatment and improve their clinical outcomes.
Less than a decade ago, the proton therapy industry was still developing the national ecosystem necessary for robust multi-site collaboration to generate the high-level clinical trials that are currently in motion.
Today, potentially practice-changing clinical evidence supporting the effectiveness of proton therapy is growing, and we celebrate the patients and health systems conducting the clinical trials to ultimately bring better treatments to the next generation.
Ask your doctor or check reliable websites such as the National Institutes of Health to find a study that might be right for you. You can also contact NYPC directly at 833-697-7686 or fill out this form on our website.
Dr. Isabelle Choi is the Director of Research and Clinical Director at the New York Proton Center. Her research focuses on improving outcomes, reducing toxicities and more effectively delivering radiotherapy for breast and gastrointestinal malignancies. Among her select national leadership appointments, Dr. Choi is Chair of the Proton Collaborative Group Publications Committee and Breast Subcommittee, is Chair of the National Association of Proton Therapy’s Physician Advisory Committee, and is the President of the Korean American Society of Radiation Oncology.