Clinical trials, designed to help study the safety and
effectiveness of new cancer treatments, represent new possibilities. Patients
who qualify receive new therapeutic protocols before they are approved as standard
Cancer patients who enroll in clinical trials are not "experiments" or guinea pigs, they are a vital part of the ongoing campaign to improve cancer treatments. Chemotherapy and other treatments for cancer will continue to advance thanks to those who participate in clinical trials. Unfortunately, only 2 percent of adults with cancer participate in clinical trials. Approximately 70 percent of all children diagnosed with cancer are enrolled in such studies, which is one of the reasons we've seen so many advances in treatment for these young patients. We need to encourage more adults to participate in clinical trials, and make it easier for them to find out about the studies. These carefully controlled and monitored studies offer a new world of potential and hope.
Between the time they emerge from the laboratory and their routine use on cancer patients, investigational therapies go through the following phases:
- Phase I studies, which generally involve a small number of people, are the first studies on humans. The goal is to see if the treatment is safe, if it has harmful side effects, and how it is best administered. If the results are positive, researchers move on to phase II.
- Phase II studies are designed to measure the new therapy’s effectiveness in fighting cancer. Only a small number of participants are used. If benefit is demonstrated, it moves on to phase III.
- Phase III studies examine how the new therapy compares to standard treatments, the "benchmark" for measuring and evaluating new and improved possibilities in treating cancer. These trials may involve hundreds of participants at different hospitals and research centers.
- In Phase IV studies, the new research becomes an accepted standard treatment in the arsenal used to fight cancer.
Is a clinical trial right for you? Perhaps. For many patients who have already
tried existing standard therapies, clinical trials offer additional hope. Participants
also know that they are contributing a great deal to help others, down the road.
I often think about the people who were among the first to test the chemotherapy
that ultimately helped me. Those enrolled in clinical trials are often part of
a national effort. These studies involve many patients in different areas and
allow physicians and researchers to share and exchange information. But before
participating in a clinical trial, it's important to understand its purpose, benefits,
risks and side effects. You will be asked to sign an informed consent. However,
you are free to leave the study at any time.
Remember that investigational therapies and trials are not always completely
covered by health insurance and HMOs. Be sure to discuss this with your doctor
as you evaluate your possible participation in a clinical study.
Specific clinical trials that may be of interest to cancer patients are available
in many hospitals and clinics throughout the United States. Several online resources
currently exist for helping patients and their families find specific clinical
trials. It is important to search several sources for information because no single
listing service lists all the currently available clinical trials. High-quality
resources that represent a wide range of available clinical trials are included
in the Clinical Trials Links at the top right of this page.
In addition, Vital Options is pleased to list the clinical trials below at the
request of the trial sponsors.
Provides regularly updated information about federally and privately supported clinical research in human volunteers. ClinicalTrials.gov gives you information about a trial's purpose, who may participate, locations, and phone numbers for more details.
Website provided by the National Cancer Institute for
clinical trial information and list of current NCI cancer clinical trials.
Cancer Trials Support Unit (CTSU)
The Cancer Trials Support Unit (CTSU) is an NCI funded program to facilitate participation (by both patients and physicians) in phase III NCI sponsored Cancer treatment trials.
to Talk With Your Doctor About Cancer Clinical Trials
A Viewpoint interview with Selma R. Schimmel, founder
and CEO of Vital Options International and Robert L. Comis, M.D., President and
Chairman of the Coalition of National Cancer Cooperative Groups
The University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center
Provides information to cancer patients, families, healthcare
professionals and the general public.
The Wellness Community Clinical Trials Matching Service
EmergingMed, on behalf of The Wellness Community, will help you connect to the clinical staff conducting the clinical trials to which you match.
Provides patients with an online directory of clinical
trials and cancer information specialists to perform personalized clinical trials
searches on behalf of patients.
Offers patient resources, including a listing of clinical
trials by disease category, links to current National Institutes of Health (NIH)
trials, listings of new FDA drug therapy approvals and current research headlines.
Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups
Offers a variety of programs and information for physicians, patient advocate groups, and patients designed to increase awareness of, and participation in, cancer clinical trials.
Colorectal Cancer Clinical Trial Information
17,500 Participants Needed to Enroll in Major Colorectal
Cancer Clinical Trials.
GCF and GOG Partner to Provide Information About
Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) Phase III Clinical Trials
GCF, with grant support from GOG, announces the launch of an addition to the Women’s Cancer Network’s clinical trials section.