Clinical Trials FAQs
Clinical trials are research studies that involve people. Many of today’s most widely used cancer treatments were developed through clinical trials. Cancer clinical trials may test new ways to treat, find and diagnose, prevent, and/or manage symptoms of cancer and side effects from its treatment
A randomized trial is considered the gold standard of treatment trials. Randomization helps ensure that bias and other unknown factors do not affect trial results. Typically, patients are randomly assigned to one of two different treatment groups. One group usually receives the current “standard of care” treatment while the other group receives the experimental treatment (usually standard of care treatment with an additional treatment). The goal of the trial is to learn which of the two treatments work best and/or has the fewest side effects.
According to a survey published by the Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups, patient experiences were positive:
- 97% felt they were fully informed on risks and benefits
- 96% felt they were treated with dignity and respect
- 92% had a positive experience
- 91% would recommend a trial to others
If you choose to join a clinical trial, you’ll either receive the best existing treatment, or a new and possibly more effective therapy. Placebos (sugar pills) are never used in place of treatment when a standard therapy exists.
For more information, read the National Cancer Institute's booklet, Taking Part in Cancer Research Treatment Studies.
- You’ll have access to currently unavailable new approaches that may be more effective than the standard approach.
- You’ll receive regular and careful medical attention from the research team.
- The results of your study may help others in the future.
- New treatments are not always better than the standard care, and may have side effects or unexpected risks.
- You will not be able to choose your treatment.
- Health insurance may not cover all the costs in your study.
- You may be required to visit your doctor more frequently.