Clinical trials are research studies that involve people. These studies test new ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, or treat diseases. People who take part in cancer clinical trials have an opportunity to contribute to scientists’ knowledge about cancer and to help in the development of improved cancer treatments. They also receive state-of-the-art care from cancer experts.
Treatment trials test the effectiveness of new treatments or new ways of using current treatments in people who have cancer. The treatments tested may include new drugs or new combinations of currently used drugs, new surgery or radiation therapy techniques, and vaccines or other treatments that stimulate a person’s immune system to fight cancer. Combinations of different treatment types may also be tested in these trials.
Each clinical trial is managed by a research team that can include doctors, nurses, research assistants, data analysts, and other specialists. The research team works closely with other health professionals, including other doctors and nurses, laboratory technicians, pharmacists, dietitians, and social workers, to provide medical and supportive care to people who take part in a clinical trial.
The research team closely monitors the health of people taking part in the clinical trial and gives them specific instructions when necessary. To ensure the reliability of the trial’s results, it is important for the participants to follow the research team’s instructions. The instructions may include keeping logs or answering questionnaires. The research team may also seek to contact the participants regularly after the trial ends to get updates on their health.
The benefits of participating in a clinical trial include the following:
· Trial participants have access to promising new interventions that are generally not available outside of a clinical trial.
· The intervention being studied may be more effective than standard therapy. If it is more effective, trial participants may be the first to benefit from it.
· Trial participants receive regular and careful medical attention from a research team that includes doctors, nurses, and other health professionals.
· The results of the trial may help other people who need cancer treatment in the future.
· Trial participants are helping scientists learn more about cancer (e.g., how it grows, how it acts, and what influences its growth and spread).
The potential harms of participating in a clinical trial include the following:
· The new intervention being studied may not be better than standard therapy, or it may have harmful side effects that doctors do not expect or that are worse than those associated with standard therapy.
· Trial participants may be required to make more visits to the doctor than they would if they were not in a clinical trial and/or may need to travel farther for those visits.
· Health insurance may not cover all patient care costs in a trial.
More information about clinical trials
Click here to learn about open clinical trials currently available through our affiliated medical oncologists’ Winchester office.