Clinical trials are research studies conducted with people who volunteer to participate in the testing of new therapies. The purpose of these studies is to find better therapies for cancer treatment.
Clinical research trials are designed by physicians and researchers who develop an action plan (protocol) that describes what will be done in the study, how it will be conducted and why each part of the study is necessary. Each study has eligibility criteria for who can or cannot participate in the study, which may include type of cancer, age, gender, medical history and current health status. This protocol is used by every doctor taking part in the study.
Clinical research trials are conducted according to strict scientific and ethical principles, and groups of experts at the national and local levels approve research studies before they begin. One important group who evaluates clinical trials is the institutional review board (IRB) of the research organization implementing the trial. An IRB is made up of doctors, researchers, community leaders and other members of the community. This board is focused on protecting the safety of participants by reviewing the protocol to make sure the study is conducted fairly and participants are well-informed of their rights during the study.
A doctor, nurse or someone from the research team will give you the important facts about the study, including the purpose of the study and what is involved such as the tests and other procedures used, possible risks and benefits. You will also receive a written consent form explaining the study, which you will be asked to sign should you decide to participate. However, even if you sign the consent form, you may stop participating in the study at any time.
No. Your participation in a clinical trial is completely voluntary at all times. It is important to ask lots of questions and consider all of your treatment options before you decide if taking part in a study is right for you.
If you have any questions about how clinical trials work, please ask your doctor, nurse or other health care professional.