Ten Things You Should Know About Clinical Trials

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1.  Clinical trials are the most reliable and best way to learn if a new treatment works, or whether one treatment works better than another.  Clinical trials provide the evidence doctors need to improve the care of cancer patients.

2.  Clinical trials are sometimes seen as a last resort for people who have no other treatment options. This is not true today, as there are many types of trials.  Talking to your doctor about clinical trials opportunities early in treatment may increase the likelihood that you will be eligible for clinical trials.

3.  Signing a consent form does not mean you must stay in a study.  In fact, you can leave at any time.  If you choose to leave the study, you will have the chance to discuss other treatments and care with your own doctor or a doctor from the study.

4.  Placebos (also called “sugar pills”) are rarely used in cancer clinical trials and are never used in place of treatment.  Patients in cancer clinical trials receive either the standard of care, (best treatment available for their specific cancer) or receive the new treatment being investigated. 

5.  Many treatment trials are designed to compare a new treatment with the standard of care, which is the best treatment currently available based on past research.  When comparing new and standard treatment, patients are randomized to one group or another.

6.  Patients can benefit from clinical trials.  In treatment trials, for example, participants are followed closely and will be among the first to benefit if a new approach is proven to work.

7.  You must also consider possible risks. New treatments under study are not always better than, or even as good as, standard care. Through a process called informed consent you will learn about a study’s treatments and tests, and their possible benefits and risks, before deciding whether or not to participate.

8.  You will never be placed on a clinical trial without your knowledge or permission.  All qualified patients involved in clinical trials sign consent forms before the study begins.

9.  Eligibility for participating in a clinical trial is determined by the study’s inclusion and exclusion criteria.  These criteria identify required characteristics for all the participants on a specific study such as: age, gender, type and stage of cancer. This helps researchers achieve accurate and meaningful results.

10. Participation does not waive co-pay cost. You may need to cover the cost of medications necessary to manage side effects of the clinical trial drug (such as treating nausea).   It is important to understand all financial costs involved in clinical trial participation.


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