Researchers are always trying to find ways to improve cancer treatment and diagnosis. One step in that process is the use of clinical trials, research studies to determine if promising approaches to prevention, diagnosis and treatment are safe and effective. And you may find yourself weighing whether this is a step you or a loved one wants to take. Here are answers to some questions you might have.
Should I take part in a cancer clinical trial?
Only you can make the decision about whether to participate in a clinical trial. Before you make your choice, 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. Likewise, 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.
How do I participate?
Each study has criteria identifying who is eligible for participation. The criteria include factors such as age, sex or type of cancer. Ask your doctor if you are eligible to participate in a study.
To find out more about available clinical trials, and criteria and eligibility for participation, ask your doctor or nurse or call (209) 342-3415.