The DeeP-C Clinical Trial: A Physician's Perspective

Karen Simon, M.D. is the primary investigator at the DeeP-C study site at Ventura County Gastroenterology Group with locations in Oxnard and Camarillo, California.

Exact Sciences:  What are some of the most surprising things you learned from participating in the DeeP-C trial?

Dr. Simon: It was really exciting to see patients agree to participate, each for his or her own special reason. Many patients agreed when they learned that their participation could help find a new way of broadening the screening base with a new testing method. One patient had a particularly compelling reason. Her teenage daughter had been cured of leukemia with a new chemotherapeutic regimen a few years ago. She had always promised that if she could do anything to advance scientific research for cancer, she would jump at the chance.

Exact Sciences: Many of the DeeP-C trial subjects had never been screened for colon cancer.  What were some of the reasons these patients decided to get screened?

Dr. Simon: I always ask my new patients, "Who got you to come in?" Their answers vary, but it is usually a persistent primary care doctor, a caring and nagging spouse, or sometimes unfortunate news about someone they know-a coworker, friend, or family member who has been negatively impacted by colorectal cancer.  I occasionally get the answer, “Dr. Oz,” whose own recent colonoscopy and polyp detection really had an impact on a number of patients.

Exact Sciences: As you know, the time physicians spend with patients is precious and limited, especially in a primary care setting. Why should colon cancer screening be a priority?

Dr. Simon: I always remind people that colonoscopy and colon cancer screening are unique in that we are looking for something, a polyp, that one day could become a cancer if not treated. This is a wonderful opportunity that most other screening tests don't offer. How lucky am I, that on a daily basis, I get to change the defined medical course a patient is on? If a patient is already forming polyps and I get the opportunity to intervene and find and remove those polyps, I can directly change the course of his or her life. It sounds dramatic but when you look at the statistics, it really is. With that kind of opportunity, how could it not be a priority?

Exact Sciences: In your opinion, why is it important for people to be educated about colorectal cancer, prevention and screening methods?

Dr. Simon: There are a huge number of misconceptions about colorectal cancer, prevention and screening. These include only men need to be screened, if I have no family members with colon cancer I don't need to be screened, or even colonoscopy hurts? I tell people that if they hear me out on the statistics about colon cancer and the process of screening, they will leave my office excited about getting their colonoscopy. As I joke with my friend and personal dentist, our jobs are challenging and exciting because we frequently deal with fear and apprehension. However, we can make a positive impact every day if we are good communicators, and passionate about what we can accomplish.

Topics: Colon Cancer News and Information, Exact Sciences News

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