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Clinical Trials: What You Should Know

A clinical trial is a research study that evaluates a new treatment. In many cases, the new treatment has already shown the potential of being an improvement over the current standard treatment. In these cases, clinical trials are testing to see how much better the new treatment works compared to the old one. Clinical trials help doctors and pharmaceutical companies develop and research new treatment procedures and drugs. People who participate in clinical trials are among the first to receive these new treatments.

There are several ways of finding a clinical trial. One way is to ask your oncologist. He/she knows your case the best and can let you know if there are clinical trials for someone with your type and stage of cancer. Another way to find a clinical trial is to look through clinical trial listings provided by resources like the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service and the American Cancer Society’s Clinical Trials Matching Service.

Learn as much as you can about a treatment before you sign up for a clinical trial. Know how it differs from the standard treatment and what side effects are possible. Find out what your insurance covers or does not cover.

Many health insurance companies do not include coverage for any expenses related to clinical trials. Learn about your rights and protections. All study participants must sign an “informed consent” document. This document states that they have a full understanding of the study and its potential benefits and risks. Participants retain the right to drop out of a clinical trial at any time.

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