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5 Things You Should Know Before Joining a Clinical Trial

By DMG Integrated Oncology Program

You may be wondering what a cancer clinical trial is and whether or not it’s a good option for you. Clinical trials are research studies designed to test new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses including cancer. All new prevention and/or treatments must go through a clinical trial process before becoming approved by the FDA for mainstream consumer use.

Here are 5 important things to know before joining a clinical trial:

  1. Although clinical trials are experimental and there are risks, the American Cancer Society states that new trials are studied for approximately six years before they make it to the human clinical trial process.
  2. There are four phases to clinical trials, each phase is designed to answer different questions about the study for the drug/treatment. It is important to know what phase your proposed trial is in and what the research goals are before deciding to join.
  3. While a promising trial might exist for your type of a cancer, your doctor must first determine whether or not you’re eligible before you can enroll. Factors that may contribute to whether you can participate in a trial include: your gender, age, cancer type and stage, other health issues, types of treatments you may have had already and for how long, etc.
  4. The informed consent process discloses details about the trial including possible risks and benefits of the trial and who pays for the trial before you decide to join. You might want to bring a friend or family member with you to the informed consent appointment and come prepared with questions.
  5. Clinical trials are voluntary. Your doctor may strongly recommend you for a clinical trial but that doesn’t mean you have to enroll. If you do make the decision to enroll you can also make the decision to opt out at any time, for any reason. Your research team and oncologist can help you transition out of the study if that is what you decide to do.

Here are a few helpful resources you can reference that provide more information regarding clinical trials, what they are, how they work, clinical trials matching services and possible questions you can ask if you are considering joining a trial:

Topics and Subtopics: Cancer & General Health

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