prepared by the
New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research
Excerpts from: What are Clinical Trials
All About, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer
Advances in science and medicine are the results of new ideas and hard
work developed through research. In cancer research, a clinical trial
is an investigational study conducted with cancer patients, usually to
test a new treatment. This search for new and better ways to treat cancer
usually begins with basic research in a laboratory and animal studies.
After careful testing, treatments with promise are then studied in patients.
Each study is designed to answer specific scientific questions so that
new and better ways can be found to help cancer patients. There are many
kinds of clinical trials, ranging from studies examining ways to prevent,
detect, control and treat cancer, to studies looking at ways to improve
a patients quality of life. Patients in a clinical trial receive their
care in the same places that standard treatments are given - at cancer
centers, hospitals, clinics, or doctor's offices.
eligible for a clinical trial, your specific cancer type, stage and
treatment status must meet the criteria of an active study. If you are
eligible, you may be asked to participate in a trial. Your can also
inquire whether such trials are available for your cancer. Patients
are very carefully monitored to assure that they are receiving the utmost
benefits of the new program. As with any new treatment, there are risks
as well as benefits. For this reason, it is important to find out all
that you can about an investigational study before you decide to participate.
consider taking part in a clinical trial?
Cancer patients may
want to consider taking part in a clinical trial for many reasons. Usually
they hope for benefits for themselves. They hope for a cure of disease,
a longer time to live, or a way to feel better. Often they want to contribute
to a research effort that may help others. Most importantly, the decision
to enter a clinical trial or not is always up to you.
there risks or side effects in clinical trials?
Yes. The treatments
used in clinical trials can cause side effects and other health risks
depending on the type of treatment and the patient's condition. Because
clinical trials are research into new areas of treatment, the risks
involved are not always known ahead of time, though serious efforts
have been made to find out what they might be. You should make sure
you understand all of the known risks before you decide to participate
in a study.
is Informed Consent?
Patients need to know what is involved
in a study. Your doctor or nurse will tell you about the treatment being
tested and will give you a form to read that explains the risks and
hoped-for benefits. Before your agree to participate and sign this informed
consent form be sure you understand the purpose of the study and what
risks you face. Ask the doctor or nurse to explain any parts of the
form or the trial that are not clear.
the Risks and Potential Benefits.
As a cancer patient, it can
be hard to decide about your treatment. There are a number of things
to consider. Cancer is a life-threatening disease which causes symptoms
of its own that are not related to treatment. The unavoidable risks
of the cancer itself and your condition should be weighed against the
potential risks and benefits of a new research treatment.
More Information Call:
The NJ Commission on Cancer Research (609)
633-6552 or the Cancer Information Service of the National Cancer Institute