What Are Clinical Trials?

Exam Hall

What are Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies. The cancer treatments used today started as clinical trials.

There are many different purposes for clinical trials:

  • Some clinical trials evaluate new drugs.
  • Others study new ways to give already approved drugs or new combinations of drugs.
  • Some studies look at new combinations with other treatments such as surgery or radiation.
  • Other studies may consider new cancer prevention methods.
  • Some studies may look at ways to diagnose cancer or ways to make life better for cancer patients.

Participation in a clinical trial is 100% voluntary. This means you can withdraw from the study at any time if you or your medical team decide the clinical trial is no longer the best option for you.

Clinical Trial Phases

Clinical Trials are tested in a series of phases that must be followed carefully in order for a new treatment to be approved for commercial use. New testing of a treatment will begin with small populations of volunteers to determine safety and dosing parameters before moving into larger patient populations to establish the treatment as a working alternative to other commercially available treatments.

Clinical Trial Phases

What are the Benefits and Risks of Participation?

As with any treatment option, a clinical trial has possible benefits and drawbacks. Please discuss the following with your provider:

Possible Benefits

  • Clinical trials offer high-quality cancer care. If you are in a randomized study and do not receive the new treatment being tested, you will receive the best-known standard treatment. This may be as good as, or better than, the new approach.
  • If a new treatment is proven to work and you are receiving it, you may be among the first to benefit.
  • You have the chance to help others and improve cancer treatment.

Possible Drawbacks

  • New treatments under study are not always better than, or even as good as, standard care.
  • New treatments may have side effects that doctors do not expect or that are worse than those of standard treatment.
  • Even if a new treatment has benefits, it may not work for you. Even standard treatments, proven effective for many people, do not help everyone.
  • Health insurance and managed care providers may not cover all patient care costs in a study.

Other Resources

For more information about Clinical Research and cancer diagnoses you can access the following sites: