Important information for cancer patients in West Michigan

Cancer and Hematology Center of Western Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOOD) – It was a year ago in the eightWest studio that the Cancer and Hematology Center of Western Michigan announced a new partnership with San Antonio-based South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics, better known as START. This program is called START Midwest and offers phase I clinical trials for cancer patients. 

Phase I is the most important step in the development of a new drug or therapy. During this phase, a treatment’s safety, dosage, and side effects are determined. Phase I trials involve a small number of patients, about 20-80, for whom standard therapies have proven ineffective or for whom alternative therapies are unavailable. Prior to being tested in a Phase I trial, a treatment has been tested at length in the lab on animals, and the drug has been deemed safe for use in humans.                                  
Advanced cancer patients in Western Michigan have first-ever access to medicines early in their development which could be their only hope for treatment. A phase 1 clinical trial patient typically is not responding to standard cancer treatment.

Questions to ask your oncologist and care team about clinical trials you’re considering:

  • Has the experiment or procedure been studied before?
  • In which phase is this clinical trial?
  • Who will be in charge of my care during the trial?
  • Will my care change based on my response to the treatment during the trial?
  • What are this trial’s risks and benefits?
  • How long will the trial last?
  • Who will pay for my trial?
  • Will my insurance cover the treatment?
  • Might I be asked to leave the trial?
  • Can I learn the results of the trial?

Patients are encouraged to talk with their oncologist about clinical trials and then visit online at or call us at 616-954-5554.