Clearing Up the Most Common Misconceptions about Clinical Trials

Monday, November 14, 2011 - 1:49pm

Clinical trials are often a very misunderstood topic. That’s why I wanted to take this opportunity to answer some of the most commonly asked questions and comments we receive.

Sometimes we hear from people that clinical trials are only offered to cancer patients who have failed all other treatments. Is this true?
Clinical trials are not just for patients with no other options. Clinical trials are also for patients who are newly diagnosed. The outcome of the current treatments, for example, for leukemia, is not optimal.  We want to improve that, so we offer clinical trials to newly diagnosed patients.  These trials involve either new drugs, or a combination of existing drugs, that we are evaluating to improve the outcome of the patients – those who participate in the trial and those who will come after them.

I don’t want to be a guinea pig!
Some patients’ initial response to a clinical trial is “I don’t want to be a guinea pig.” But this is certainly not the case. We are doing the clinical trial because we want to improve their outcome.  Every patient will be offered options that are in their best possible interest. The question is whether this is a standard treatment that we have used before or something novel, something we’ve not used, or something we’ve used but it has promise in a different combination or in a different manner.

What if I my health insurance does not cover the clinical trial?
Many patients express concern that their insurance won’t cover a clinical trial. Insurance companies that allow their patients to participate in a clinical trial will cover the standard of care. All the associated treatments/expenses of the clinical trial are covered by the sponsor of the trial. We don’t ask patients to pay from their pocket. And we don’t ask the insurance company to pay for the clinical trial expenses.

I’m not really sure about enrolling in a clinical trial?
It’s important for you as a patient or family member of a patient to ask questions, to advocate for yourself, and to be sure that you take the time to understand your options before making any decision about your or a loved one’s care – be it the decision to participate in a trial or otherwise.

For more answers to your questions about clinical trials visit our web page at