Virtually all major advances against cancer originated with discoveries in the basic sciences, and basic research reveals new concepts about the causes of cancer and how it develops, progresses and responds to therapy. The insights we gain from clinical research and trials today helps us improve treatment options that will benefit other patients in the future.
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If you are offered a clinical trial, feel free to ask any questions or bring up any issues concerning the trial at any time. The following suggestions may give you some ideas as you think about your own questions.
- What is the purpose of the study?
- Why do researchers think the approach may be effective?
- Who will fund the study?
- Who has reviewed and approved the study?
- How are study results and safety of participants being checked?
- How long will the study last?
- What will my responsibilities be if I participate?
Possible risks and benefits
- What are my possible short-term benefits?
- What are my possible long-term benefits?
- What are my short-term risks, such as side effects?
- What are my possible long-term risks?
- What other options do people with my disease have?
- How do the possible risks and benefits of this trial compare with those options?
Participation and care
- What kinds of therapies, procedures and /or tests will I have during the trial?
- Will they hurt, and if so, for how long?
- How do the tests in the study compare with those I would have outside of the trial?
- Will I be able to take my regular medications while in the clinical trial?
- Where will I have my medical care?
- Who will be in charge of my care?
- How could being in this study affect my daily life?
- Can I talk to other people in the study?
- Will I have to pay for any part of the trial such as tests or the study drug?
- If so, what will the charges likely be?
- What is my health insurance likely to cover?
- Who can help answer any questions from my insurance company or health plan?
- Will there be any travel or child care costs that I need to consider while I am in the trial?
Tips for asking your doctor about trials
- Consider taking a family member or friend along, for support and for help in asking questions or recording answers.
- Plan ahead what to ask — but don’t hesitate to ask any new questions you think of while you’re there.
- Write down your questions in advance, to make sure you remember to ask them all.
- Write down the answers, so that you can review them whenever you want.
- Ask about bringing a tape recorder to make a taped record of what’s said (even if you write down answers).
If you are thinking about taking part in a clinical trial, be sure to ask your doctor, “Is there a clinical trial that I can join?” If your doctor offers you a trial, here are some questions you may want to ask.
Questions about the Trial
- What is the purpose of the trial?
- Why do the researchers believe that the treatment being studied may be better than the one being used now? Why may it not be better?
- How long will I be in the trial?
- What kinds of tests and treatments are involved?
- How will the doctor know if the treatment is working?
- How will I be told about the trial’s results?
- How long do I have to make up my mind about joining this trial?
- Who can I speak with about questions I have during and after the trial?
- Who will be in charge of my care?
- Is there someone I can talk to who has been in the trial?
Questions about Risks and Benefits
- What are the possible side effects or risks of the new treatment?
- What are the possible benefits?
- How do the possible risks and benefits of this trial compare to those of the standard treatment?
Questions about Your Rights
- How will my health information be kept private?
- What happens if I decide to leave the trial?
Questions about Costs
- Will I have to pay for any of the treatments or tests?
- What costs will my health insurance cover?
- Who pays if I’m injured in the trial?
- Who can help answer any questions from my insurance company?
Questions about Daily Life
- How could the trial affect my daily life?
- How often will I have to come to the hospital or clinic?
- Will I have to stay in the hospital during the clinical trial? If so, how often and for how long?
- Will I have to travel long distances?
- Will I have check-ups after the trial?
Questions about Comparing Choices
- What are my other treatment choices, including standard treatments?
- How does the treatment I would receive in this trial compare with the other treatment choices?
- What will happen to my cancer without treatment?