Cleveland Clinic Looking For Cancer Clinical Trial Participants

Cleveland Clinic is investigating a blood test that can detect cancer before symptoms arise. [Ronald Rampsch / Shutterstock]
Cleveland Clinic is part of a national study investigating a blood test that can detect cancer before symptoms arise. [Ronald Rampsch / Shutterstock]
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Cleveland Clinic is looking for nearly a thousand people to participate in a national study of a blood test that may detect cancer before a patient shows any symptoms.

The test was previously shown to accurately detect more than 50 types of cancers from a single blood draw. It uses technology that can detect small amounts of cancer-related DNA in a participant’s bloodstream.

The new trial, called the PATHFINDER study, will investigate how well the test identifies cancer in people who are asymptomatic, said Dr. Eric Klein, the study’s principal investigator at Cleveland Clinic.

The test could be especially helpful in detecting cancers such as ovarian and pancreatic, which are often caught late because there are no designated screenings for them, Klein said.

“These are cancers that kill people, and that’s because we don’t have quick ways of detecting them when they’re curable,” Klein said.

Currently, there are only five cancers with screening procedures in place, such as mammograms for breast cancer and colonoscopies for colon cancer, he said.

“We’re excited by this because this test … can detect many of these cancers from which there’s no screening paradigm,” Klein said.

Researchers are looking to enroll more than 6,000 participants across the six institutions participating in the study, Klein said.

In the Cleveland area, they are looking for participants in the Cleveland Clinic health system who are over 50 who either have an average risk for cancer, or have elevated risk of cancer due to factors like smoking, genetics or a previous diagnosis.

Researchers are not able to go out into the community to recruit participants as they usually would for studies like this due to concerns about COVID-19, Klein said.

“In terms of efficiency and safety in the pandemic era, we have changed that, so we’re going to keep all of our study coordinators right on campus,” he said.

Those who are interested in receiving the blood test can fill out a form online and researchers will contact them to come into a Clinic lab for the study. 

If a test comes back positive, Klein said there is a committee of experts in place who will review the sample and reach out to the participant’s primary care physician about appropriate next steps.

Other institutions participating in the PATHFINDER study include Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Intermountain Healthcare, Mayo Clinic, Oregon Health & Science University and Sutter Health.

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