What Are Clinical Trials?
Clinical trials are closely monitored studies of new treatments for cancer patients. Nearly all the cancer treatments and medications used today began with clinical trials. Clinical trials help find better ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat a disease.
The most common clinical trials evaluate new drugs, medical devices, biologics, or other treatments in strictly controlled studies. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration must approve new therapies before they can be widely used. When a new treatment looks promising, Huntsman Cancer Institute researchers begin a new clinical trial.
- This research helps scientists improve cancer therapies and work toward finding a cure.
- Scientists study clinical trial treatments to determine if they will be more effective or produce fewer side effects than current remedies.
- Scientists study whether clinical trial treatments will expand treatment options for cancer patients.
Because clinical trials are experimental, they have risks as well as benefits. Risks depend on the treatment being studied and the health of the person in the study. A health-care provider will discuss potential risks and side effects before trial enrollment.
Benefits may include the following:
- Playing a more active role in one’s own health care
- Gaining access to new research treatments before they are widely available
- Obtaining expert medical care at leading health care facilities during the trial
- Helping other patients by contributing to medical research
- Helping scientists find new and better cancer treatments
Risks may include the following:
- Unpleasant side effects
- Serious side effects
- Unknown health risks
Patients in clinical trials are closely monitored and may be seen more often by health-care providers and receive feedback on their condition more frequently.
“The research gave me hope. There was this clinical trial that the doctors were willing to do and it gave me an opportunity to proactively treat the cancer I had instead of waiting to get very sick. Now, I’m able to live a full life. I look forward to seeing my kids grow up and growing with them.”
-Samual, liver cancer survivor