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When you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, you want to know every treatment option available. After weighing all of the potential side effects, risks and benefits of your choices, you may want to consider a clinical trial.
These are research studies designed to evaluate new treatment and prevention options, including drugs not yet available to the public. Common benefits include:
¨ Being among the first to benefit from a new cancer treatment
¨ Access to state-of-the art treatment
¨ Dedicated attention from a research nurse who attends all your cancer treatment, follow-up and care associated with the clinical trial in the physician's office
¨ Direct contribution to finding better ways to prevent, detect or treat
What is a clinical trial?
A clinical trial is a research study designed to evaluate potential, new treatment options. These studies are the result of a long and deliberate cancer research process that often takes years. Clinical trials test the safety and effectiveness of new or modified cancer drugs, new drug doses, unique approaches to surgery or radiation therapy, and varied combinations of treatments.
For some people, a clinical trial implies experimentation. However, as with any fear of the unknown, understanding the process can ease your anxieties and equip you with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision about whether to participate in a clinical trial.
Patients who participate in a clinical trial receive either a promising new treatment being tested or the best available conventional treatment. And, while there is no guarantee that any treatment will be successful, prior clinical trials have proved to be some of the most effective treatments currently in use for cancer today.
Clinical Trial Benefits
Most patients choose to participate in a clinical trial with a desire of finding a better treatment or cure. While there are no guarantees, researchers hoped that the treatment options offered through clinical trials will be comparable or better than current standard care. If a new treatment option is proven to work, and you are participating in the clinical trial, you will be among the first to benefit.
Other benefits include:
¨ Access to state-of-the-art treatment for certain types of cancer
¨ Dedicated attention from a research nurse who attends all treatment, follow-up and care associated with the clinical trial in the physician's office
¨ Direct contribution to finding better ways to prevent, detect or treat cancer
How Do Clinical Trials Work?
Clinical trials are designed to test treatments under very specific scientific and ethical guidelines. Each study follows a precise action plan (protocol) that explains the number of people that will participate in the study, who is eligible to participate, what study drugs participants will take, what medical tests will be administered and how often, and what information will be gathered. Dr. Rai Memorial Medical Centre uses the same research protocol as all other research centers participating in a particular study.
Clinical trials are conducted in the physician's office and occasionally in the hospital. When the physician has identified a clinical trial as an appropriate treatment option, a Clinical Research Center registered nurse is notified to determine the patient's eligibility for the trial. The specific type or stage of cancer usually determines eligibility, as well as other factors.
Once eligibility is established, the research nurse will explain the informed consent process. Informed consent is one of the patient's most important rights in the research process, as it outlines the purpose of the study, the exact treatments that will be administered, all possible side effects, and the patient's right to withdraw from the study at any point. Signing the consent form acknowledges that the trial was explained and is understood.