What is a Clinical Trial?
Cancer treatment clinical trials are research studies to find better ways to treat cancer. It is important that men and women of all ages and backgrounds take part in these studies so that what is learned will help cancer patients now and in the future.
Clinical trials often compare the most accepted cancer treatment (standard treatment) with a new treatment doctors hope will be better.
Each study has rules about who can and cannot participate—such as age, sex, or type of cancer. Think about asking your doctor if you can take part in a study. Your doctor will explain the clinical trial to you. Clinical trials include only people who choose to take part. Please take your time to make your decision about taking part. You may discuss your decision with your friends and family. You also discuss it with your health care team. If you have any questions, you can ask your doctor for more explanation about the clinical trial or research study.
Each study’s protocol describes the characteristics that all patients in the study must have. Called eligibility criteria, these guidelines differ from study to study, depending on the research purpose. They may include age, gender, the type and stage of cancer, and whether cancer patients who have prior cancer treatment or who have other health problems can take part.
Using eligibility criteria is an important principle of medical research that helps produce reliable results. During a study, they help protect patient safety, so that people who are likely to be harmed by study drugs or other treatments are not exposed to the risk. After results are in, they also help doctors know which patient groups will benefit if the new treatment being studied is proven to work. For instance, a new treatment may work for one type of cancer but not for another, or it may be more effective for men than women.