What is a Clinical Trial? Clinical trials are research studies in which researchers help physicians find ways to improve health and cancer care. Each study tries to answer specific cancer care questions and to find better ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat cancer.
Why are there Clinical Trials? A clinical trial is one of the final stages of the long and careful cancer research process. Studies are completed with the assistance of cancer patients to determine whether promising approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment are safe and effective.
Should I take part in Clinical Trials? Only you can make the decision about whether or not to participate in a clinical trial. Before you make your decision, you should learn as much as possible about your disease and the trials that are available to you. Ask your doctor or nurse about ways to locate current clinical trials information that might be appropriate for you. Then, discuss this information and how you feel about it with your doctor and/or nurse, family members and friends to help you determine what is right for you.
Are there benefits? There can be benefits to taking part in a clinical trial. If you join a study that compares treatments, you will receive either the best practice treatment for the kind of cancer you have (called standard treatment), or you will receive a new treatment that the physicians hope will be better than the standard treatment. Patients taking part in clinical trials can potentially benefit by receiving new drug or cancer therapies before they would otherwise be available through a doctor’s prescription.
What are the risks? Even if a new treatment has benefits, it may not work for you. The new treatment being tested may not be better than, or as good as, standard care treatment. Like wise, if you receive the standard care instead of the new treatment being studied, it may not be as effective as the new approach. Also, the new research treatment may have side effects.
Who pays for the patient care costs on Clinical Trials? Health plans and managed care providers do not always cover all patient care costs in a study. What they cover varies by plan and by study. Ask a doctor, nurse or social worker from the study to help you determine in advance what costs are covered.
How are participants protected? The government has a system designed to protect human research subjects. Before a government-funded clinical trial can begin, the trial plan (also called a protocol) must be approved. During the trial, review committees make sure that the plan is being followed and participants are being protected. Regulations require the researchers performing studies to thoroughly inform patients about a study's treatments and tests and their possible benefits and risks before a patient decides whether or not to participate in any study. This process is called informed consent. How do I participate? Each study has criteria identifying who is eligible for participation. The criteria include such factors as age, sex, or type of cancer. Ask your doctor if you are eligible to participate in a study. Additional resources American Cancer Society www.cancer.org National Cancer Institute www.cancer.gov For more information please call Community Cancer Program at Doctors Medical Center 209-342-3415
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