Understanding Clinical Trials

What is a clinical trial?
A clinical trial is a study that tests and evaluates new methods in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer. All of today's standard cancer treatments began as clinical trials before they could be proven effective.  Clinical trials are a vital component of cancer research because they help doctors find the most effective treatment regimens and ensure that they can be put into general use as quickly as possible.

Purpose
Clinical trials help doctors find out if a promising new treatment is safe and effective for patients.  Each clinical trial study is developed and carefully designed to answer specific scientific questions.  Before a new treatment is clinically tried with cancer patients, it is carefully researched and studied in the laboratory and in animal studies.  But this research cannot show exactly how a new treatment will work with patients. Clinical trials are used to find new and better ways to treat cancer patients.

Why should I participate?
People participate in clinical trials for a variety of reasons. Some of the main reasons people want to participate in a study is to find a cure for themselves, extend their life, or find a way to feel better.  Many cancer patients participate in clinical trials because they offer the patient a new alternative to standard treatment before it is available to the general public.  They may also wish to participate because there is currently no other effective therapy for their disease or because they wish to help in researching the disease so that future generations may benefit from the results.

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