Why participate in clinical trials? Cancer affects us all, whether we have it, care about someone who does or worry about getting it in the future. Clinical trials contribute to knowledge and progress against cancer. If a new treatment proves effective in a study, it may become a new standard treatment that can help many patients.

Today’s most effective standard treatments are based on previous study results.

Clinical trials offer the most promising new ways to:

  • Treat cancer
  • Manage symptoms of cancer or side effects from treatment
  • Screen and diagnose cancer
  • Prevent cancer

We participate in clinical trials because we want to improve the health and quality of life of our patients. All of the cancer medicines that people currently use as part of their treatment came from clinical trials. With the participation of people like you, new medicines can be approved for use.

What’s a clinical trial

New tests and treatments aren’t offered to the public as soon as they’re made. They first need to be studied. A clinical trial is a type of research that studies a test or treatment given to people to see how safe and helpful it is. A clinical trial is done only when there’s reason to believe a new test or treatment may improve the care of patients.

Who can participate in clinical trials?

Any time anyone needs treatment for cancer, clinical trials are an option to consider. Trials are not only for people who have advanced cancer that’s not responding to treatment. Trials are available for all stages of cancer.

To join a clinical trial, you must meet the conditions of the study. Even if you qualify for the study, choosing to join a clinical trial is something only you, those close to you and your care team can decide together.

What clinical trials are available?

As our patient, you have access to several clinical trials for any type of cancer at any stage. Talk with your doctor about finding clinical trials that may be right for you. If your doctor offers you a trial, here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • What’s the purpose of the study?
  • What kinds of tests and treatments does the study involve?
  • What does the treatment do?
  • Has the treatment been used before?
  • Has it been used for other types of cancers?
  • Will I know which treatment I receive?
  • What’s likely to happen to me with, or without, this new treatment?

What are the benefits and drawbacks of participating?

Like all treatment options, clinical trials have possible benefits and drawbacks. By looking closely at all options, including clinical trials, you’re taking an active role in a decision that affects your life.

Possible benefits

  • You’ll have access to new treatment that’s not available to people outside of the trial.
  • The research team will watch you closely.
  • If the treatment being studied is more effective than the standard treatment, you may be among the first to benefit.
  • The trial may help scientists learn more about cancer and help people in the future.

Possible drawbacks

  • The new treatment may not be better than— or even as good as—the standard treatment.
  • New treatments may have side effects that doctors don’t expect or that are worse than those of the standard treatment.
  • You may be required to make more visits to the doctor than if you were receiving standard treatment, or you may need to have extra tests.
  • Even if a new treatment has benefits in some patients, it may not work for you.

Additional Resources

You can also explore the resource listed below for more information about clinical trials that may be available at your cancer care center. Ask your care team for more information.

Cancer Research Center (CRC)

Provides access to Phase I (the first step in testing new treatments in human patients), as well as Phase II, III and IV clinical trials. Also provides access to unique studies to help treat side effects from your cancer treatment.

Metro-Minnesota Community Oncology Research Consortium (MMCORC)

Provides access to more than 100 cancer treatment and prevention studies sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and participating community hospitals and clinics.

What Are Clinical Trials? by the National Cancer Institute

ClinicalTrials.gov by the National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine

Provides answers to frequently asked questions about clinical trials.

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