AFTER CANCER: QUESTIONS ABOUT CLINICAL TRIALS

What Are Clinical Trials?

Studies on new cancer treatments for human volunteers are called clinical trials. The drugs or treatment have already been shown to have anticancer effects in the laboratory. The goal is to find safer and more effective cancer treatments.

Investigational treatments, also called experimental treatments, are not the same as alternative treatments.

Who Runs Clinical Trials?

Clinical trials are overseen by

•the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)

•a “co-operative group,” an organized group of doctors from a number of hospitals and clinics who are trained in designing,

running, and interpreting clinical trials

•a qualified individual oncologist or group of oncologists in one institution or clinic

•hospital research ethics committees: every hospital that runs a clinical trial must have an ethics committee which includes a lawyer, minister of religion and a layperson or community representative.

Why Would I Want to Enter a Clinical Trial?

A clinical trial can offer you some unique advantages:

•It can provide an opportunity to try newer treatments before they are generally available.

•These new treatments may prove to be your best chance for doing well.

• It can offer a chance to participate in work that helps all cancer survivors, no matter your outcome from the trial or the conclusions drawn from the trial.

• If you are in remission from a cancer with a very high rate of recurrence, and there is no standard therapy to help prevent recurrence, you may want to try to increase your chance of prolonging your remission.

• Some people feel they are watched more closely in a trial, sin the investigators have to report on all results.

• Clinical trials usually provide all treatment and follow-up at cost to the patient.

Are People Who Participate in Clinical Trials “Guinea Pigs”?

No. The term has come to be associated with animals or people used against their will for experiments without regard to the safety.

The negative connotations of the term “guinea pig” do not apply to clinical trials. You cannot become a participant in a clinical trial without your written informed consent, let alone without you knowledge. Clinical trials are controlled, informed situation; where your short-term and long-term safety is of paramount importance. Except for Phase I cancer experiments, clinical trials offer you the possibility of doing more to treat or prevent cancer than is available with standard therapy.

Many Phase II or III clinical trials offer exposure to cutting-edge treatment and technology before it is routinely available. These treatments are administered by highly trained, highly qualified doctors.

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Posted on Thursday, March 12th, 2009 at 6:13 am and is filed under Cancer. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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