Clinical research is at the heart of all medical advances, including treatments for cancer. Clinical trials are research studies that involve patient volunteers who are carefully monitored throughout their treatment with the medicine or combination of medicines being evaluated in the study.

Virginia Cancer Specialists believes that participation in cancer research is important for not only our patients but for all cancer patients. The results of these studies make new and better cancer treatments available to everyone. To support this important scientific process, the VCS Research Institute was created.  The VCS Research Institute is affiliated with US Oncology Research, which has played a key role in bringing 48 FDA-approved cancer treatments to the market so far.

Under the direction of Alex Spira, MD, PhD, FACP and Raymond Wadlow, MD, patients in the greater Fairfax and Northern Virginia regions are able to access new and leading-edge treatments that may not be available in other practices in the area. 

There are four different types of clinical trials. All of them are available through the VCS Research Institute. They are:

  • Phase I – researchers test a study drug in a small group of people (20 to 80) for the first time to evaluate its safety, determine a safe dosage range, and identify side effects.
  • Phase II – the study drug is tested in a larger group of people (100 to 300) to measure its effectiveness and further evaluate its safety.
  • Phase III – the study drug is tested in large groups of people (1,000 to 3,000) to confirm its effectiveness, monitor side effects, compare it to approved standard treatments, and collect information that will allow the study drug to be used safely.
  • Phase IV – the drug is tested after it has been marketed to collect information about its effect in various populations and about any side effects associated with long-term use.

VCS Research Institute is also one of 14 sites across the country that is a part of the Translational Oncology Program (TOP). TOP was designed to address the special challenges of Phase I clinical trials, including increased safety concerns and more complex trial designs. TOP is a select group of physicians who have Phase I study experience, a dedicated staff, and facility equipment that meets the program’s criteria.

The opportunity to participate in a trial is presented to each patient who is a good fit for a study. If they agree to participate they will receive the investigational treatment and they will be carefully monitored to see how they respond. 

A complete list of clinical trials is available on our website. If you or a loved one is interested in participating in a cancer research trial, talk to your VCS doctor to see if you qualify.

Thank you to all of our patient volunteers who have participated in clinical trials over the years. They have made the treatments available to us today more than just a possibility. They are now a reality.