Questions to Ask about Clinical Trials

1. Are cancer clinical trials for people who have no other options?

  • Trials are often another option that offers a treatment plan that may better address the patient's needs and continue their quality of life.

2. Am I eligible for a clinical trial?

  • Every clinical trial has a protocol that describes what will be done in the trial, how the trial will be conducted, and why each part of the trial is necessary. Each study includes guidelines for who can and cannot participate. These guidelines are called “eligibility criteria”.

  • Eligibility criteria may include age, sex, medical history, and current health status. Your doctor will make sure you are eligible for the study before you begin.

3. Will I receive inferior treatment?

  • Clinical trials often are an option for a different and possibly better or more effective treatment.

4. Am I a human guinea pig?

  • Institutional Review Boards (IRB) comprised of local physicians, nurses, ethics and legal experts, and community leaders must approve all clinical trials and the informed consent documents before the trials are approved for people to participate in. These boards have the responsibility to assure that there are no unreasonable risks, compared to the benefits to the human subject. Most clinical trials testing new drug treatments have already been tested in labs in animals and humans.

5. Do trials always include a placebo or "sugar" pill?

  • No. Placebos are used only when there is no standard-care treatment already available. Placebos are rarely used in cancer clinical trials. They are never used in the place of the standard-care treatment already given. Any clinical trial that involves a test group that will receive no treatment must inform participants in advance that the trial has a placebo arm.

6. Can I leave a clinical trial?

  • Yes, you may leave at any time. Talk to your physician to learn how to do this safely.

Contact us if you have other questions.

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