Clinical Trial FAQs

What are clinical trials?

Clinical trials are research studies that involve people. Often, a clinical trial might be the last treatment resort for a cancer patient when all other therapies have failed. Cancer clinical trials help doctors discover new and better ways to prevent, find, and treat cancer. Many trials have been started right here at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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Why are cancer clinical trials important?

Cancer clinical trials are done to see if new drugs, devices, and treatments are safe and effective for people to use. They also can help control symptoms of cancer or side effects from treatment. Many of the cancer treatments used today came from past clinical trials.

Why should I join a cancer clinical trial?

By joining a cancer clinical trial, you can get a new drug or treatment that shows promise but is still being tested. If a new drug or treatment you are getting is working, you may be among the first to benefit. You also have the chance to help others and improve cancer treatment for generations to come.

Are clinical trials safe?

Each clinical trial is thoroughly reviewed and checked by the hospital’s Institutional Review Board and research staff. These teams make sure that patients understand the study’s purpose and the risks involved. Your doctor will explain all the known risks and will closely watch you for side effects. Today, federal laws are in place to protect you from being taken advantage of through medical research.

Keep in mind: 

  • The new drug or treatment may not be better than those we have now.
  • The new treatment may or may not help you.
  • Drugs that treat cancer can also harm healthy body tissues.
  • It is not always known what side effects to expect.
  • New treatments may have unknown risks which could be short or long-lasting.

Are clinical trials free?

The costs of treatments, testing, and doctor visits are usually covered by insurance. Talk to your doctor and research team members about any out-of-pocket costs you may have. We have financial counselors and social workers that can help you with the costs of cancer treatments.

What are the different types of clinical trials?

Clinical trials examine prevention, screening, treatment, and quality of life (supportive care).

  • Prevention trials seek ways to lower the risk of cancer, from lifestyle to diet.
  • Screening trials look for new ways to identify cancer before symptoms exist.
  • Treatment trials are, perhaps, the most familiar. They look at new treatments and new combinations of existing treatments.
  • Quality of life (supportive care) trials seek ways to improve the comfort of those living with cancer. For example, experts may study drugs to reduce chemotherapy side effects or control pain.

What is a clinical trial phase?

Cancer clinical trials are done in "phases." Each phase is designed to answer a separate research question.

  • Phase I looks for a safe dose.
  • Phase II measures effectiveness.
  • Phase III compares the new treatment with the best existing cancer treatment.
  • Phase IV evaluates new uses or long-term effects of the treatment.

How can I get involved in a clinical trial?

Talk to your doctor/nurse and ask to speak to a research study team member to see if a clinical trial is right for you. Find out what is involved in the trial by asking about the treatment, tests, possible risks and benefits, how the trial could affect your daily life, and if there are extra costs. Make sure you understand the information that you read or hear. Talk about the trial with your loved ones. The decision is yours.

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