What are clinical trials?

Clinical trials are research studies that are used to test new and promising cancer treatments to diagnose, prevent or treat a disease. Clinical trials can also be used to learn if a new treatment is more effective or has less harmful side effects than the standard treatment.

In clinical trials we are trying to answer two main questions:

Does the new treatment work?
Is the new treatment safe?
Before a new treatment reaches the clinical trial phase it goes through many years of lab research, testing its effect and benefits.

Clinical trial phases:

Clinical trial Phase 0 / Early Phase 1 – Exploring how the new treatment works Clinical trial Phase 1 – is the new treatment safe? Clinical trial Phase 2 – is the new treatment effective? Clinical trial Phase 3 – Is the new treatment better than the existing alternatives?

Who should join clinical trials:

Any time you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer you should also look at clinical trial alternatives. They are available to patients with all the different cancer stages and offer treatment alternatives not just as a last resort.

Questions to ask before joining a clinical trial:

  • What is the goal of this study?
  • Who will my physicians be during the trial? Who will I contact if I have problems, questions, or concerns?
  • How much experience do you have with this particular treatment?
  • What kinds of treatments and tests would I need to have in this study? How often are they done?
  • What is the expected side effect?
  • How will we know if the treatment is working?
  • Who will pay for the treatment?
  • Will I have to be in the hospital for any parts of the study?
  • How long will I be in the study? How long will the study last?
  • Are there reasons I would be removed from the study? Are there reasons the study might be stopped early?
  • Is long-term follow-up care part of the study? What would it involve?
  • If the treatment is working for me, can I keep getting it even after the study ends?
  • Can I talk to other patients already taking part in the study?