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Clinical Trials

Clinical Trials

Standard Care Plus Innovative Treatments

Clinical trials are research studies that help to show whether a test or treatment works and is safe. People are living longer lives from successful cancer treatments that are the results of past clinical trials. Through clinical trials, doctors determine whether new treatments are safe and effective, and work better than current treatments.

There are different types of clinical trials and many different ways to participate in a clinical trial. Researchers use cancer clinical trials to test new ways to:

  • Treat cancer, such as with new medications
  • Find and diagnose cancer
  • Prevent cancer, such as with diet or exercise
  • Manage symptoms of cancer and side effects from treatment

Clinical trials are the final step of a study process that begins with research in a lab. Before any new treatment is tested on people in clinical trials, researchers work for many years to understand its effects on cancer cells in the lab and in animals.

Should I participate in a clinical trial?

Should I participate in a clinical trial?

Participation in a clinical trial often provides patients access to potential new treatments and expert health care. By participating in a clinical trial, you play an active role in your health and the health of others by contributing to scientific knowledge that may lead to innovative medical treatments for future patients.

Like all treatment options, clinical trials have possible benefits and risks.

Possible Benefits Possible Risks
Access to a new treatment that is not available to people outside the trial The new treatment may not be better than, or as good as, the standard treatment, or may have unexpected side effects.
The research team will watch you closely. You may need to make more visits to the doctor, and extra expenses, such as childcare costs or travel.
If the treatment being studied is more effective than the standard treatment, you may be among the first to benefit. You may need extra tests. Some of the tests could be uncomfortable or time consuming.
The trial may help scientists learn more about cancer and help people in the future. Even if a new treatment has benefits in some patients, it may not work for you.
Most costs directly related to the study won’t cost you, such as extra lab tests or medications. Health insurance may not cover all patient costs in a trial.

How much will I know about a clinical trial before I enroll?

How much will I know about a clinical trial before I enroll?

Every trial has a person in charge, usually a doctor, who is called the principal investigator. The principal investigator prepares a plan for the trial, called a protocol. The protocol explains what will be done during the trial. It also contains information that helps the doctor decide if this treatment is right for you. The protocol includes information about:

  • The reason for doing the trial
  • Who can join the trial (called “eligibility criteria”)
  • How many people are needed for the trial
  • Any drugs or other treatments that will be given, how they will be given, the dose, and how often
  • What medical tests will be done and how often
  • What types of information will be collected about the people taking part

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