Interactive Program Tackles Myths Surrounding Cancer Clinical Trials

October 16, 2009

BY: DAGNY STUART

“Saturday Night Live” comedians frequently borrow the “Jeopardy!” game show format to take a humorous poke at other actors or politicians.

Now a group of Vanderbilt cancer survivors and researchers is using that same quiz show formula to skewer myths about cancer clinical trials.

From left, Caroline Hanson, Gary Piper and Pam Martin take part in “Mythbusters: Cancer Research in Jeapardy” at Gilda’s Club Nashville. (photo by Joe Howell)

From left, Caroline Hanson, Gary Piper and Pam Martin take part in “Mythbusters: Cancer Research in Jeopardy” at Gilda’s Club Nashville. (photo by Joe Howell)

An interactive live program, “Mythbusters: Cancer Research in Jeopardy,” was recently presented by Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Research Advocates and members of the Vanderbilt Postdoctoral Association. The event at Gilda’s Club Nashville featured a star-studded panel of faux celebrities — Alexandra Trebek, Martha Stewart, Jimmy Buffet and Doris Gump — played by Patty Lee, Caroline Hanson, Ph.D., Gary Piper and Pam Martin.

Patient Research Advocate Lee presented 10 common myths about cancer research and clinical trials and encouraged nearly 50 audience participants to vote on possible answers electronically.Videotaped answers from Vanderbilt cancer experts were used to debunk the myths and provide factual information about cancer clinical trials available to patients today.

Jane Kennedy, manager of Patient Advocacy, spearheaded the development of the novel educational program.

Audience members laugh during the “Mythbusters: Cancer Research in Jeopardy” program. (photo by Joe Howell)

Audience members laugh during the “Mythbusters: Cancer Research in Jeopardy” program. (photo by Joe Howell)

“The goal of this interactive program is to dispel misconceptions associated with cancer research and provide educational material in a relaxed and entertaining environment,” she said.

The audience included cancer survivors, caregivers and community members with no special cancer knowledge.

“As a breast cancer survivor, I see the urgency of providing factual information regarding clinical trials,” said Kathy Hallock, research advocate. “Without participants in cancer clinical trials, the ability to develop better treatment modalities and newer drugs is greatly impeded.”

The presentation was funded by a grant from the Meharry-Vanderbilt Community Engaged Research Program (CERP) and supported by community partners, the Tennessee Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition, the NCI Cancer Information Service, Community Health Collaboratives and Gilda’s Club Nashville.

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