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What is a Cancer Clinical Trial?

What is a Cancer Clinical Trial?

A clinical trial is a research study in which people volunteer to take part that helps to guide doctors in finding new ways to safely treat their patients’ cancer while also maintaining the patient’s quality of life. Patients always have the right to choose whether to take part in a clinical trial or to leave a clinical trial at any time, for any reason.

Clinical trials are designed to detect, prevent, and treat cancer. Research treatments can come in many forms such as drugs, vaccines, radiation, surgery, and combinations of different therapies. Clinical trials can also study approved drugs to determine if the drug can be better utilized either alone or when combined with other treatments. Placebos are rarely used alone unless no known effective treatments exist. When cancer clinical trials compare treatments, they compare the new treatment against the current approved treatment (or standard of care).

Understanding the Phases of a Clinical Trial

  1. Phase 1
    1. Determining an accurate schedule of treatment
    2. Finding the safest and most effective dose
    3. Understanding the treatments side effects
  2. Phase 2
    1. Establishing an understanding of whether the treatment has an effect on the cancer
    2. Determining the specific cancer types for which the treatment is most effective
  3. Phase 3
    1. Comparing the treatment being studied with the current treatment available and determining its efficacy
    2. Placebos may be used in some phase III studies, but they are never used alone if there is a treatment available that is already known to work

Why Should You Join a Clinical Trial?

  • Clinical trials can help people live longer with good quality of life
  • When on a clinical trial, patients are monitored very carefully and frequently
  • If a patient does not receive the new treatment being studied in a randomized trial, the patient can still receive the standard-of-care, which may be just as beneficial, if not more
  • Patients can have access to treatment that is not otherwise available, which may be safer or more effective than the current treatment options
  • Clinical trials can help to decrease the cost of a patient’s cancer treatment
  • They help in the fight against cancer and improving treatment options for the future
  • Clinical trials allow patients to support other patients and/or future generations, as clinical trials are used to understand the disease, the impact of treatment on the disease and its side effects

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