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Ironman Event Brings Attention to the Importance of Clinical Trials Vital to Finding a Cure for Mesothelioma and Other Cancers

By Nancy Meredith

Close to 1,000 triathletes will participate in the Beach2Battleship Ironman and Half Ironman races in Wilmington, NC, on November 13, 2010. PPD, a contract research organization that accelerates the delivery of safe and effective medicines through clinical trials, headquartered in Wilmington, is the title sponsor of the event. The race puts a spotlight on “heroes” to educate the public on the vital role of clinical research and participation in clinical trials to deliver new medicines to improve health and save lives. Clinical trials are critically important to find new treatments and cures for cancers, such as leukemia, breast cancer, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer typically affecting the lining of the lungs, is highly aggressive and is resistant to many standard mesothelioma cancer treatments making it a difficult disease to treat effectively. Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, it can be treated with varying degrees of success through the use of surgical procedures, chemotherapy and radiation.

A clinical trial is one of the final stages of a long and specific cancer research process. Studies are conducted with cancer patients to determine whether a new approach to cancer prevention, diagnosis, and/or treatment is safe and effective. They are also used to help doctors and pharmaceutical companies find ways to improve a patient’s health and cancer care.

The B2B, with the tagline of “Going the Distance to Improve Health & Save Lives,” unites two organizations dedicated to health and wellness – YMCA and PPD. 5,000 spectators, participants and volunteers are expected to attend the triathlon providing PPD an opportunity to educate the public about the importance of people participating in clinical trials. All proceeds from the event benefit the Wilmington Family YMCA.

The ironman event, a 2.4-mile open-water swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile-run, draws athletes that believe without clinical trials they would not be alive today. Many are celebrating their new lives by participating in the grueling event.

Brian Barndt of North Carolina is a 2005 heart transplant recipient and is the swimmer on the “Tin Men” relay team consisting of two other heart transplant recipients. Barndt believes that without clinical trials his anti-rejection medication would not have allowed his heart to remain healthy and thrive. Barndt said the medication has allowed him “to live my life to the fullest, reach new goals and inspire others to do the same.”

Wendy Chioji a breast cancer survivor from Utah participated in a clinical trial for her chemotherapy medications. Chioji believes strongly in the benefits of clinical trials and has spoken on a national level about the importance of them. The triathlon is another opportunity for her to educate friends and family. She believes that “it is the debt of the cured to help in the fight against cancer.”

Oncologist Milana Dolezal from California notes that clinical trials are very important and are an important focus of her practice. “I am racing in the PPD Beach2Battleship Triathlon as a doctor, scientist, and caregiver with a call to action to encourage clinical trial participation,” says Dolezal.

If you are one of the 3,000 Americans diagnosed with mesothelioma each year, clinical trials may offer the best available treatment as well as the opportunity to receive new, potentially more effective therapies.

To find a list of clinical trials related to mesothelioma see ClinicalTrials.gov.

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