How true is it that cancer clinical trial patients are given placebos?

When there is an available treatment to help a person with cancer, that person will always receive at least that level of treatment in a clinical trial. Very few trials use placebos, or things that look like "real" treatments but have no effect. People with cancer who are no longer helped by current approved treatments may find that a clinical trial provides hope.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

If you choose to enroll in a trial for cancer treatment, you will not receive a placebo, or “sugar pill,” instead of proven therapy. You will either receive the best care currently available or a new, possibly more effective form of treatment.

With the advent of personalized medicine, doctors and scientists are creating therapies based on a patient’s individual genetic profile. No two cancers are exactly alike and there is no one-size-fits-all treatment, so clinical trials help develop a wide array of treatment options, allowing doctors to better match an individual’s biological make up to the most appropriate treatment.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.