What are clinical trials and why are they important?

What are clinical trials and why are they important?

Julie Scott, DNP
Julie Scott, DNP

Clinical trials are research studies to help find new cancer treatments. Every medication or treatment must go through clinical trials to be approved. Clinical trials are an important part of cancer care.

There are different phases to clinical trials.

Phase I trials are also called dose-finding trials. During this phase, the safe dose and administration of a new medication is determined.

Phase II trials are done after the safe dose is determined after a phase I trial. During phase II, the medication is given to see what the effect of the medication is on cancer and to see if there are any negative effects that the medication causes.

Phase III trials are done to see how the new medication compares to the currently available treatment. During these trials, the safe dose and administration are known, and people are observed for how their cancer responds to the treatment. This is often compared to the currently used treatments to see which is better.

Clinical trials are closely observed by many people and organizations while they are taking place to be sure they are completed safely. These can include the institutional review board (IRB), the research team, and the Data and Safety Monitoring Board.

Clinical trials cannot be done without the consent of the patient. No one will participate in a clinical trial without their knowledge and informed consent. Before enrolling in a trial, the risks and benefits of the trial will be reviewed, and the patient will have the opportunity to ask questions. Once they feel fully informed and want to proceed, they will be enrolled in the trial.

If you’re interested in looking for a clinical trial, the first step would be to speak with your cancer care team. Clinical trials are not done at every cancer center; you may need to go elsewhere for a trial.

Each trial has specific qualifications someone has to have in order to enroll in the trial. If you’re selected to enroll, the trial team will discuss all of the details with you. This may include the schedule of medication administration, the number, and timing of lab tests and office visits, as well as the schedule of imaging.

There are many potential benefits to participating in a clinical trial, but it’s important that you make the decision that is right for you. Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about any questions or concerns you may have. Thank you for reading, and we hope this article was educational.

You can also visit www.clinicaltrials.gov for more information on open trials near you.

 

 

Julie Scott, DNP
Julie Scott, DNP
Julie is an oncology certified Oncology Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of medical oncology experience. In addition to her clinical work, she is an accomplished healthcare writer providing oncology content for various publications. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member for a Master's nursing program and a chair for Doctoral nursing students.

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