The Facts About Clinical Trials



Being in a clinical trial means I may not get any treatment at all.

When there is an available treatment to help a cancer patient, that patient will always receive at least that level of treatment in a clinical trial. Very few trials use placebos, or things that look like "real" treatments but have no effect. Patients who are no longer helped by current approved treatments may find that a clinical trial provides hope.

I won't know what's going on about my treatment.

The process of being evaluated for a clinical trial provides lots of information about what you will experience. Clinical trial patients also receive a detailed "informed consent" document that describes everything from treatment procedures and schedules to possible risks and benefits.

The care on a clinical trial is not good.

Quite the opposite is true. Doctors must follow a very thorough and detailed plan, called a protocol, and have to report on following that plan. Patients who are in clinical trials get excellent care and are followed very closely by doctors and their staff.

Once I start a clinical trial, I can't get out of it.

Participation in a clinical trial is completely voluntary. You may choose to withdraw from the trial at any time.

It doesn't really matter if I decide to be in a clinical trial.

You have the power to make a huge difference in the future of cancer treatment. Clinical trials can't work without patient participation. Without enough participants, a clinical trial could delay a potential breakthrough. As a participant, you will get the best available care and perhaps an additional drug or therapy that greatly increases your chances of stopping your cancer's growth.

Doctors randomly make up clinical trials.

It takes years of thought and planning to have a clinical trial accepted by the FDA so it can recruit patients. Clinical trials are sponsored by organizations, institutions, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, the government, and nonprofit groups who want to improve current cancer treatment. Some trials are "investigator initiated," which means a researcher or doctor created the trial, but these trials face the same strict requirements.

Want to read more about clinical trials? Check out All About Clinical Trials and Why Should I Consider a Clinical Trial

Our Cancer Supportive Services Staff also recommends the following resources: "Myths and Facts About Cancer Clinical Trials" by the Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups - and "Clinical Trials" by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.