Clinical trials: No longer a last resort

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Cinda Jones knows the importance of finding the best cancer treatment because she has faced it twice.

“I had breast cancer in 2003 and then in 2009 it was colon cancer," Jones said.

She participated in clinical trials after she was healed from cancer.

For her, it was a way to give back to the medical field.

“I had a chance to use my body, my tissues, my blood, whatever they needed to investigate further,” Jones said.

Although a misconception is that trials are only for people at their wits’ end, many studies are about disease prevention and management.

“I think we're like a diamond in the rough. I don't think the community knows just how much research is done here,” Vivian Sheidler, Cone Health’s system-wide manager for clinical research oncology, said.

Cone Health has 432 active clinical trials across all disciplines.

The pool of participants usually comes from volunteers or people who were referred by their doctor.

Dr. Don Heck, co-director of the stroke program at Novant Health’s Forsyth Medical Center, says trials have greatly influenced current procedures for removing a blood clot.

The studies often open the door to introducing new devices.

Criteria such as age, sex and health status are factors in selecting qualified participants.

Although there are risks with clinical trials, patients have protections and can opt-out at any time.

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