Clinical Trials: Are They Right for You?

Clinical trials are at the heart of modern medical research, but the decision to enroll in one is very personal. Most clinical trials make relatively small changes to standard care, with hopeful improvements in survival, side effects, etc., and the assumptions are always that outcomes are at least as good as standard treatments. But first you should weigh the pros and cons ...

The pros:

You could get an upgrade from standard treatment. If you’ve gotten a fair-to-good prognosis from your doctor, you might consider entering a clinical trial designed to test the standard treatment for your type of cancer against the standard treatment plus the addition of a new drug—or against a different dosing regimen.

You could boost your odds of success. If you have advanced cancer and today’s FDA-approved treatments aren’t helping, you may want to ask about trials. You could be among the first to benefit from a new drug or a new combination of drugs.

You’ll get lots of TLC. Doctors running clinical trials manage every aspect of treatment, including
dosing, safety and effectiveness, which helps keep patients on track. You won’t have to worry about forgetting appointments—the trial’s staff will remind you, and you’ll likely be seen more often.

And a few cons:

You’ll lose some control over your care. The reality of a randomized trial is that you’re randomly chosen to try one of two or more treatment options. Given the choice, you might not have picked the treatment you’re receiving.

You’ll have to expect the unexpected. Clinical trials are done in order to answer questions about potential new treatment options. That means your cancer care team may not be certain what side effects to expect, or how effective the treatment could be.

For more information on clinical trials, visit ClinicalTrials.gov.

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