Clinical trials allow patients to play an active roll in their own health care, gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available, and help others by contributing to advancements in cancer care.
What is a clinical trial?
In cancer research, a clinical trial is a study conducted with cancer patients, usually to evaluate a new treatment. Each study is designed to answer scientific questions and to find new and better ways to help cancer patients. The search for good cancer treatments begins with basic research in laboratory and animal studies. The best results of that research are tried in patient studies, hopefully leading to findings that may help many people. The USA Mitchell Cancer Institute conducts basic and translational research with the goal of advancing cancer treatment for its patients. Before a new treatment is provided to patients, it is carefully studied in the laboratory. This research points out the new methods most likely to succeed and, as much as possible, shows how to use them safely and effectively. But this early research cannot predict exactly how a new treatment will work with patients. With any new treatment there may be risks as well as possible benefits. There may also be some risks that are not yet known. Clinical trials help us find out if a promising new treatment is safe and effective for patients. During a trial, more and more information is gained about a new treatment, its risks, and how well it may or may not work. Standard treatments, the ones now being used, are often the base for building new, hopefully better treatments. Many new treatments are designed on the basis of what has worked in the past, in efforts to improve on this. Only patients who wish to, take part in a clinical trial. You may be interested in or asked to enter a trial. Learn as much as you can about the trial, before you make up your mind.
Why Would a Patient Be Interested in a Clinical Trial?
Patients take part in clinical trials for many reasons. Usually, they hope for benefits for themselves. They may hope for a cure of disease, a longer time to live, and a way to feel better. Often they want to contribute to a research effort that may help others. Based on what researchers learn from laboratory studies, and sometimes earlier clinical studies and standard treatments as well, they design a trial to see if a new treatment will improve on current treatments. The hope is that it will. Often researchers use standard treatments as the building blocks to design better treatments. Researchers involved in a study have reason to believe that it will be as good as, or better than, current treatments. The patients in a clinical trial are among the first to receive new research treatments before they are widely available. The patients who take part in clinical trial procedures that do prove to be better treatments have the first chance to benefit from them. All patients in clinical trials are carefully monitored during a trial and followed afterwards. They become part of a network of clinical trials carried out around the country. In this network, doctors and researchers pool their ideas and experience to design and monitor clinical studies. They share their knowledge from many specialties about cancer treatment and care. Patients in these studies receive the benefit of their expertise.
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