Questions about Clinical Trials

Is a Cancer Clinical Trial Right for You?

What is a cancer clinical trial?

Cancer clinical trials are research studies that involve people. They may also be called “studies.” Cancer clinical trials are done to see if new drugs, devices or treatments are safe and effective for people to use.

Why are cancer clinical trials important?

Cancer clinical trials can help prevent, find and treat cancer. They can also help control symptoms of cancer or side effects from treatment.

Many of the cancer treatments used today came from past clinical trials:

  • A vaccine that prevents cervical cancer
  • A breast cancer drug that increases the cure rate
  • New drugs that help men with advanced prostate cancer live longer
  • A new and powerful treatment for nausea

Why should you join a cancer clinical trial?

By joining a cancer clinical trial, you can get a new drug or treatment that show promise but which 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.

Do cancer clinical trials have risks?

The risks depend on the drug or treatment being studied. Your doctor will explain all of the known risks and will closely watch you for side effects.

Keep in mind:

  • The new drug or treatment may not be better than those we now have.
  • 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.

What should you do before joining a cancer clinical trial?

  • Talk with your doctor about all of your treatment options
  • Find out what is involved in the trial. Ask about the treatment, tests, possible risks and benefits, how the trial could affect your daily life, and if there are extra costs
  • Talk about the trial with your family and friends
  • Discuss the trial with the study team and ask questions
  • Make sure you understand the information you read and hear
  • Ask the study team to explain things if you are not sure what they mean