Why should I consider participating in a clinical trial if I have cancer?

A clinical trial is a medical research study that tests new ways to prevent, screen, diagnose or treat a disease. There are five main reasons you should talk to your oncologist about a clinical trial for cancer:

  1. Complete care - The "standard of care" is what the medical community agrees is the treatment for a specific type of cancer given a person's overall health. Clinical trials always provide treatment that is the standard of care or better. For example, in a randomized Phase III trial for a promising new chemotherapy drug, some participants would get the treatment under study while others get the standard of care. Or some participants would get the current standard of care plus the treatment under study, while others get just the current standard of care.
  2. Careful monitoring - Because the promising new treatment is being carefully studied, participants are also carefully monitored by healthcare professionals to see how they are doing and to watch for side effects. So people enrolled in clinical trials tend to talk with their healthcare professionals more often and are watched more carefully than people not involved in a trial.
  3. Safety first - Requirements for clinical trials are strictly managed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Before a drug is approved for testing in humans, the FDA ensures that it has gone through strict testing protocol in laboratory animals.
  4. Close to home - Most people are familiar with the tremendous research being conducted all over the country at research institutions, but in fact many community cancer centers offer opportunities for people to participate in clinical trials. Depending on the type of clinical trial you seek, you may have many options that do not require you to travel.
  5. Scientific advancement - Without clinical trials, there is no progress toward cures for cancer. By participating in scientific research through a clinical trial, you can help future cancer patients gain access to new, better treatments. People who are treated through clinical trials have access to the best new treatments before the general public. Making the decision to participate in a cancer clinical trial also helps you play a more active role in your own healthcare.

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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.