What Are Clinical Trials?
Clinical trials, also called cancer treatment or research studies, test new treatments in people with cancer. The goal of this research is to find better ways to treat cancer and help cancer patients.
Why Are Clinical Trials Important?
Clinical trials are important in two ways:
Cancer Clinical Trials Include Research at Three Different Phases
Each phase answers different questions about the new treatment.
Phase 1 trials are the first step in testing a new treatment in humans. In these studies, researchers look for the best way to give a new treatment (e.g., by mouth, IV drip, or injection? How many times a day?). They also try to find out if and how the treatment can be given safely (e.g., best dose?); and they watch for any harmful side effects.
Phase 2 trials focus on learning whether the new treatment has an anticancer effect (e.g., does it shrink a tumor? Improve blood test results?).Phase 3 trials compare the results of people taking the new treatment with results of people taking standard treatment (e.g., which group has better survival
rates? fewer side effects?). In phase 3 trials, patients are assigned at random to receive either the new treatment or standard treatment.
Should You Take Part in a Clinical Trial?
This is a question only you, those close to you, and your physician(s) can answer together.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
Your Rights, Your Protections
Before and during a cancer treatment study, you have a number of rights. Knowing these can help protect you from harm.
For more information go to the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) web site http://cancertrials.nci.nih.gov This site is the NCI’s comprehensive clinical trials information center for patients, health professionals, and the public.
For a listing of the most recent breast cancer clinical trials, click here.