Clinical trial for treatment of bladder cancer

In the summer of 2012, Colin Lundeen, Island Medical Program Class of 2015, spent two months working on a project with Dr. Gary Steinhoff of Pacific Urologic Research, investigating the safety and efficacy of a new drug in the treatment of non-muscle invasive bladder cancer.  This ongoing clinical trial involves patients with bladder cancer who failed Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG) treatment.  BCG is a live, diluted form of Mycobacterium bovis, better known for being used as a tuberculosis vaccine and which is now the most commonly used intravesical treatment for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer.

Colin’s role during the summer was to work with patients, taking focused histories and vital signs along with assisting in the administration of the study drug.  He would meet with patients once per week during their induction phase and monthly thereafter, answering their questions and ensuring that all necessary paperwork was filled out and filed.  He also had the opportunity to perform chart reviews to determine patient eligibility for the clinical trial.

Colin had three reasons for wanting to take part in this project: to gain exposure to a surgical field of medicine; to develop an understanding of clinical research and to engage in patient-based research.  One important thing he learned from his experience was how detailed and lengthy the clinical trial process can be.  Colin gained a better understanding about why drugs take so long to be approved for the market and why drug costs are so high.

When asked how his experience with the project might help in his medical studies and future career in medicine, Colin replied “I had many interactions with patients as well as time to look up medical information I was unsure of.  The experience satisfied all three of my goals and helped prepare me for future clinical practice”.