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Oncology Research Program

The Helen G. Nassif Community Cancer Center is a community based comprehensive cancer center offering programs and services that span from prevention and screening to diagnosis, treatment and research.  Providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs and values guides all of our clinical decisions.

In collaboration with Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa Hematology/Oncology and the St. Luke’s Nassif Radiation Center, we conduct meaningful and beneficial clinical trials (research studies) for many different types of cancer. We participate in research programs with several respected national organizations funded by the National Cancer Institute. In addition, we partner with oncology organizations across the country to give our patients access to additional clinical trials.

What is a Clinical Trial?

Clinical trials are research studies that involve people. Through clinical trials, doctors find new ways to improve treatments and the quality of life for people with disease.

Researchers design cancer clinical trials to test new ways to:

  • Treat your cancer
  • Find and diagnose cancer
  • Prevent cancer
  • Manage symptoms of cancer and side effects from treatment

The Five Common Types of Clinical Trials

  • Interventional/Treatment Trials

    Perhaps the best known clinical trials are those that investigate possible improvements in therapies. Before a new drug or treatment can be approved by the FDA, it must go through three phases of clinical trials. Most of the time, a clinical trial is designed to compare an investigational therapy with the best-known existing therapy for the disease being studied. When there is no proven treatment to use as a comparison, researchers sometimes compare an investigational drugs with a placebo, which is a sugar pill or other inactive substance that has no therapeutic value but is made to look like the new drug in development.

  • Diagnostic Trials

    Many clinical trials focus on finding better ways to accurately diagnose diseases. These trials will hopefully lead to improved and easier methods enabling physicians to diagnose persons at risk for various diseases.

  • Prevention Trials

    Researchers look for ways to stop disease from developing, often times in groups of people identified as being at higher risk. This type of trial looks at whether a certain medication, vitamin or lifestyle change (for example, healthy eating or exercise) might prevent disease.

  • Screening Trials

    Researchers also look for ways to detect disease as early as possible. Being able to diagnosis disease early on provides an opportunity for care planning and to receive as much benefit as possible from current treatments.

  • Quality of Life Trials

    Researchers try to better understand and address the needs of people with disease and their caregivers. The goal of such trials is to figure out what types of support, education or training solve some of the challenges faced by people and their caregivers.

Who Can Participate in a Clinical Trial?

Based on questions the research is trying to answer, each clinical trial will state the criteria for who can and cannot participate. The criteria helps ensure the group selected is as similar as possible, that way doctors can be sure the results are due to the treatment and not other factors.

A searchable database for cancer clinical trials is available through the American Cancer Society and You can search for available clinical trials in your area based on cancer type, treatment history and current condition.

Whether you are newly diagnosed or a cancer survivor we are here to help and support you in any way we can. If you are interested in learning more about clinical research trials we have open at our site please call us at (319) 368-5514.

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Call (319) 368-5514 to schedule an appointment with the clinic.



Learn more about the DCIS Test. LEARN MORE

The DCISionRT Test

DCISionRT uses tissue from a biopsy or surgery of the breast to create a cancer risk profile for each individual patient based on the biology of their tumor. DCISionRT is intended to be used along with your provider’s evidence-based workup to determine if you would benefit from radiation therapy as part of treatment that is personalized to you.

Your unique profile will be combined with several risk factors using the DCISionRT algorithms to determine your individual risk profile. This will help you and your physician understand your risk of recurrence over the next ten years and decide if radiation therapy as part of your treatment plan will decrease this risk.

Patients will need a consult at the St. Luke’s Nassif Radiation Center prior to testing. If you are interested in learning more about DCISionRT or other clinical research trials we have open at our site please call us at (319) 368-5514.