Deciding to Take Part in Clinical Trials

Whenever you need treatment for your cancer, clinical trials may be an option for you. Choosing to join a clinical trial is something only you, those close to you, and your doctors and nurses can decide together. This section has information you can use when thinking about your treatment choices and making your decision.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

As a treatment option, a clinical trial has possible benefits as well as drawbacks. You may want to discuss the following issues with your doctor and the people close to you.

Possible Benefits

  • Clinical trials offer high-quality cancer care. If you are in a randomized study and do not receive the new treatment being tested, you will receive the best known standard treatment. This may be as good as, or better than, the new approach.
  • If a new treatment is proven to work and you are taking it, you may be among the first to benefit.
  • By looking at the pros and cons of clinical trials and your other treatment choices, you are taking an active role in a decision that affects your life.
  • You have the chance to help others and improve cancer treatment.

Possible Drawbacks

  • New treatments under study are not always better than, or even as good as, standard care.
  • If you receive standard care instead of the new treatment being tested, it may not be as effective as the new approach.
  • New treatments may have side effects that doctors do not expect or that are worse than those of standard treatment.
  • Even if a new treatment has benefits, it may not work for you. Even standard treatments, proven effective for many people, do not help everyone.
  • Health insurance and managed care providers do not always cover all patient care costs in a study. What they cover varies by plan and by study. To find out in advance what costs are likely to be paid in your case, check with your insurance company and talk to a doctor, nurse or social worker from the study.

Source: The Web site of the National Cancer Institute (http://www.cancer.gov)

Posted 7/17/2007