For Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, we examine how adopting a patient-centric approach can improve clinical trial experiences for cervical cancer patients.
Over 1.5 million women are living with cervical cancer worldwide, and more than 13 thousand women in the US are diagnosed with the condition each year. While cervical cancer can become deadly if undiagnosed, it is very treatable when detected early and properly managed. For women living with the condition, clinical trials can offer pioneering treatments that may be more effective than those currently on the market.
Yet only eight percent of oncology patients in the United States participate in clinical trials. According to a recent study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the low rate of participation is due not to lack of interest but to common structural barriers.
In honor of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, here are some ways sponsors and CROs can boost public awareness and connect more cervical cancer patients to potentially life-saving treatments.
Making Way for Patient-Centric Clinical Trials
Barriers such as ineligibility, geographical access, and logistical concerns make trial participation difficult for more than three out of four cancer patients. Fortunately, sponsors and CROs can help overcome these barriers by adopting a patient-centric approach to cervical cancer clinical trials.
Clinical trials tend to be concentrated in big cities, and patients in rural areas may be hindered by travel constraints, work, and family responsibilities. To improve accessibility, home visits and transportation services can bring trials to patients with mobility challenges. Partnerships with services like Lyft or Uber can also ensure patients reach their trial appointments on time.
Sponsors and CROs should ensure that the trial experience is comfortable and convenient by soliciting patient feedback and finding ways to measure and improve the qualitative experience.
For instance, studies have found that cervical cancer patients may have added anxiety because of the condition’s connection with sexually transmitted HPV. In this case, simply sharing accurate, non-judgemental information with patients can lessen these feelings of anxiety and improve the overall experience.
These practices can even help boost recruitment efforts, as patients who are satisfied with their experience are far more likely to complete the entire course of treatment and recommend clinical trials to other patients.
Boosting Enrollment Through Digital Recruitment
To boost trial enrollment, sponsors and CROs need to ensure that cervical cancer patients are informed about new clinical trials. Many cervical cancer patients search for potential treatments and new medical information online, and investing in the right digital outreach strategy can ensure that relevant content reaches potential patients.
One way sponsors and CROs can reach cervical cancer patients is through a well-crafted PPC campaign. Pay-per-click (PPC) can be an effective tool for increasing website traffic, especially when targeting patient pain points through keywords like “pelvic pain” or “pain after intercourse.” Further, PPC ads that are geographically specific are more likely to increase engagement.
Beyond PPC ads, Facebook is a key platform to reach out to patients and share clinical trial content. Despite recent scandals, Facebook remains an essential source of support and reliable information for many cancer patients. In addition, Facebook is currently piloting a new “health groups” feature where patients with chronic conditions can find community support. With time, these health groups can become a powerful marketing tool, as patients are more likely to trust helpful, non-intrusive information shared in these forums.
Cervical cancer clinical trials can offer cutting-edge treatments to patients at any stage of their condition. By embracing patient-centric designs and digital outreach strategies, sponsors and CROs can offer cervical cancer patients better clinical trial experiences, and in turn boost their enrollment numbers.