Marc Straus | CWK Network
“You’re trying to balance that risk and benefit ratio, where hopefully it’s worth the risk of giving these drugs.”
- Dr. Glen Lew, pediatric oncologist -
Elly Purvis, 21-months-old, was diagnosed with leukemia this past August. “Initially we were just devastated,” says her father Chad Purvis.
Almost immediately, Elly’s doctor asked her parents to make a big decision: Enter their child in a clinical trial for an experimental course of treatment.
Dr. Glen Lew, pediatric oncologist, explains that a clinical trial consists of “adding an extra ingredient … adding a different medicine or giving a different medicine at a different dose.”
“I think, as a parent, you worry,” says Elly’s mother, Paige. “I don’t want my child to be a guinea pig. Or I don’t want there to be anything going on that would hurt her chances of getting better.”
Clinical trials are a well-educated guess. Doctors believe the new medicine, the new treatment, will work and that the risks are minimal.
“You’re trying to balance that risk and benefit ratio,” says Dr. Lew, “where hopefully it’s worth the risk of giving these drugs to try to improve the cure rate.”
For childhood leukemia, clinical trials have produced new treatments that work: The cure rate has gone from 20 percent three decades ago to more than 80 percent today. That track record convinced Elly‘s parents to enroll her. “We put a lot of thought into it,” says Chad Purvis. “I guess initially we want to just get the treatment that works the best.”
But there was something more. “It helps not only your child but children down the road,” explains Paige. “And children in the past have done it for our child and for possibly their child. I mean it’s just been a very positive experience.”
In Elly’s case, the trial is working. Not only is she in remission but “we’ve noticed really no significant side-effects. She’s doing great,” says Chad.
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