Clinical trials test new medical approaches in patients with cancer, and are important to developing new treatments for cancer. The standard treatments that patients receive today were developed and tested in clinical trials.
Who can participate in a clinical trial?
There are many factors which define who may participate in a clinical trial. In order to answer a specific question about a new approach to cancer care, things like age, gender, medical history, stage, and type of cancer need to be kept the same for all participants. These common characteristics help researchers achieve accurate and meaningful results and may also minimize the risk of a person's condition becoming worse by participating in the study.
Why should I participate in a clinical trial?
Clinical trials help advance treatment in different ways. They may help determine if a drug is effective in treating cancer. They may help determine if a drug that treats one kind of cancer will be effective in treating another kind of cancer. Clinical trials can help determine what kind of diet or activities will help patients feel better during and after treatment. They can also helps us to understand what we can do to prevent cancer.
What are the risks in participating in a clinical trial?
A new treatment or medical approach becomes a clinical trial because it has shown strong promise in laboratory studies. Results in the clinic may be different then laboratory studies. The new therapy may not be better than the standard treatment, or it may have unexpected or more difficult side effects. Clinical trials help highlight these differences. If the study compares different treatments, participants are randomly assigned to one treatment or the other. Participants to not get to choose which treatment they receive. Patients should also consider the costs of trial participation and determine what costs will be covered by their insurance or the study sponsor.
Are clinical trials safe?
Clinical trials have a strict set of policies and practices they must follow. Every clinical trial has a plan, called a protocol, which describes what will happen in the study and why it is necessary.
Before a clinical trial begins, local scientific review and human subject protection committees review the protocol and only approve it if the clinical trial meets all of the applicable requirements and standards. Additionally the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviews all trials that involve Investigational New Drugs and Devices. These committees can stop a clinical trial that is not following the protocol or is causing unexpected harm to participants.
Finally, participants can choose to leave a study at any time—before the clinical trial starts or at any time over the course of the trial.
How can I get more information about clinical trials?
The following organizations provide general information about clinical trials online:
You can talk to your provider to find out if a clinical trial at Norris Cotton Cancer Center is right for you. We also have cancer research nurses who can answer your questions about clinical trials. They can be reached by calling (800) 639-6918 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brochures and videos are available in the reception areas for Hematology/Oncology (3K) and Radiation Oncology (2K).
In addition, you can search this website for clinical trials currently being conducted at Norris Cotton Cancer Center. You can search by cancer type, principal investigator, study number, or word or phrase.
What is informed consent and why is it important?
The process of informed consent gives patients the information they need to decide if they want to participate in a clinical trial. In the informed consent process, a doctor or a research nurse will explain the purpose of the study, the tests and procedures involved, and the possible risks and benefits. During the informed consent process, you are encouraged to ask questions to be sure you understand all aspects of participation in the clinical trial. If you agree to participate, you will be asked to sign an informed consent document. You also may be asked to sign a new consent form as new benefits, risks, or side effects are discovered.
You can call our Cancer Help Line at (800) 639-6918 to speak with a cancer research nurse, or email the cancer research nurses directly at email@example.com.