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New frontiers: Advancing cancer care through clinical research

Patient Spotlight August 07, 2019 By Main Line Health

For Nina Cruice, participating in a clinical trial at Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR) has been a way for her to focus on something positive after her cancer diagnosis and treatment. LIMR is a non-profit, biomedical research institute located on the campus of Lankenau Medical Center, part of Main Line Health.

Cruice is in the breast cancer weight-loss (BWEL) study, which is for patients who’ve been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer and are interested in losing weight. Researchers are trying to determine if losing weight and exercising more lowers the risk of cancer recurrence.

“The trial has been like a lifeline to me,” says the retired manager of the gift and thrift shops at Riddle Hospital, also part of Main Line Health. “My daughter says the trial came along at just the right moment in my retirement. It’s time for me to pay attention to myself and my own health.” 

The BWEL study is one of about 50 clinical trials being administered by the Clinical Research Center at LIMR. Researchers are studying new drugs — including promising new immunotherapies — diagnostic tests and treatment methods for cancer patients. This includes cancers of the breast, brain, gastrointestinal tract, prostate, blood, head and neck, and lung, as well as gynecologic cancers. Researchers also are studying nonclinical issues, such as health disparities and the financial health of cancer patients. 

“Our goal with clinical research is to give Main Line Health’s oncology patients more tools in their arsenal to fight cancer,” says Paul Gilman, MD, director of the Clinical Research Center. “Many treatments that are now standards of care were first proven to be safe and effective in clinical trials.” 

For patients, clinical trial participation may give them access to potential new treatments before they are widely available to the public. Their participation can also advance medical knowledge and help others who may develop cancer in the future. Perhaps most importantly, participants in clinical trials gain access to a high level of care and monitoring. Indeed, hospitals that conduct research are known to have the best patient outcomes.

Albert DeNittis, MD, chief of radiation oncology at Lankenau Medical Center, notes. “Research plays a vital role in patient outcomes. Based on research findings, we’re able to offer patients at Main Line Health the very latest treatment options for their particular cancers.”

As part of the BWEL study, Cruice checks in with her coach about once a month, keeps a food log to track calories, and wears a Fitbit to monitor her activity level. In the process she has lost weight and inches and says she feels great. Thankfully, her cancer has not returned. 

“By participating in a clinical trial I’m giving back to the health care community and paying it forward to future cancer patients,” says Cruice. “Plus, it helps me focus on something other than my cancer, something positive that is having a beneficial outcome for me and could have for others, too.” 

Various clinical trials are currently taking place within Main Line Health through the Center for Clinical Cardiology, the Center for Clinical Cancer Research, and LIMR’s Clinical Research Center. You can view a full list of clinical trials being administered by LIMR here.

Main Line Health serves patients at hospitals and health centers throughout the western suburbs of Philadelphia. To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.