Dr. Alexey Danilov is a board-certified clinician and talented CLL researcher. He is a professor in the Department of Hematology and Stem Cell Transplantation at City of Hope, as well as the Associate Director of the Toni Stephenson Lymphoma Center (also at City of Hope) in Duarte, California.
In this interview, Steven Bloom, President and Chair of CLL Society’s Board of Directors, and Dr. Danilov met virtually during ASH 2020 to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the way CLL patients participate in clinical trials.
The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically altered the way healthcare is being delivered in the United States. Everything from how it operates, to the design of how patients interact with their healthcare providers has changed to make the patient experience as safe as possible. This has been especially felt in the outpatient setting.
The pandemic has not changed the reality that blood cancer patients are still being diagnosed, requiring ongoing surveillance, and need treatment. For more information about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected clinical care for CLL patients, please visit CLL Society’s website here.
The good news is that the healthcare system has adjusted efficiently to COVID-19, and cancer centers in the United States are now accustomed to the new routines and preventative measures that must be in place to ensure everyone’s safety. Clinical trial designs have evolved as well, changing how patients obtain access to them and are able to participate safely. Some examples include:
- A primary study goal includes minimizing all in-person contact points.
- In-person visits should be converted to telemedicine visits (video or phone).
- If possible, allow bloodwork to be obtained locally and mailed to the primary study location.
- Consider shipping medications to the participant’s home, instead of requiring they be picked up in person.
- When in-person visits are 100% necessary, make certain strict safety rules are in place at the study site.
- The pandemic has changed everything, except the ongoing needs of the CLL community
- Clinical trials and CLL patients’ willingness to participate in them are more important now than ever.
- CLL still needs to be diagnosed and treated.
- All CLL patients are at high risk with COVID-19, so talk to your provider and closely follow all safety guidelines.
- CLL patients can still safely go to cancer centers to receive treatments when an in-person visit is required.
Before the pandemic, it had been widely reported that a lack of geographically diverse clinical trial sites negatively impacted study participation. Something positive that has come from COVID-19 is that many clinical trials now allow participants from some less urban areas, who were previously underserved, to participate using telehealth models.
For more information about clinical trials, please visit the CLL Society Clinical trial Page on the website here.
Please enjoy this brief interview between Steven Bloom and Dr. Danilov from the annual ASH 2020 virtual conference.
Access to important upcoming clinical trials directed at understanding the CLL patient’s immune system response to the COVID-19 vaccine can be found here. As more COVID-19 trials become available, this information will be updated.
Keep learning, be kind, and stay well!
Robyn Brumble, MSN, RN
Director of Scientific Affairs