Many cancer patients find themselves asking the question, “What is a clinical trial and how do I know it is right for me?” These are both very important questions, as they can give a patient more insight into their specific type of cancer and figure out if the treatment options that a clinical trial offers is right for them.
Each patient is different, and must assess the benefits and potential risks that come with a clinical trial. A clinical trial is the final testing ground that researchers use when trying to get a drug or procedure approved by the FDA. Clinical trials are the testing phase that occurs once the first round of tests are performed in a lab, and then tested on animals, and finally once it has been proven safe enough, on humans.
Clinical trials have been around for quite some time and have evolved into a streamlined process that is dedicated to improving the quality of life for those diagnosed with cancer or other diseases. The first ever clinical trial that was performed in history was in 1946. Through clinical trials we have made many breakthroughs, and with time and those willing to participate, we believe that the cure for cancer is not too far ahead.
Clinical trials have become more sophisticated as we become more advanced as a society. The risks of these clinical trials have minimized, which for cancer patients mean that their safety is of the utmost importance to researchers, and these procedures and drugs that are being tested are closely monitored to ensure the continued safety of participants. Chemotherapy and radiation once started out as clinical trials, and look at the profound impact they have on patients today. Clinical trials have given us the opportunity to diagnose and prevent cancer in much more effective ways than ever before. Many of these clinical trials have given researchers the ability to manage the side-effects from treatments to benefit patients worldwide.
There are certain criteria needed to join a clinical trial. Each trial is different, and this ensures the safety of the patient and the researchers as information is gathered about their specific conditions. Criteria also help researchers with providing us with accurate medical tests.
The most common criteria a patient has to meet are simple.
Patients need to fall in a certain age group. – We are learning more and more about different cancers by the day. Patients that are tested within a certain age group ensures that the treatment can help those in similar age groups, and if a procedure is found to work within a variety of age groups then researchers know how to classify the treatment.
Patients need to be diagnosed with a certain type of cancer. – Patients who have a similar type of cancer are much easier to study and provide treatment to. Researchers can determine which treatments work on a particular type of cancer.
Patients have received or not received certain treatments. – Patients who have received treatment, such as chemotherapy, may respond differently to those who have not received treatment. Most clinical trials ask which treatments have been performed to group them in the correct trial. This helps determine which treatments work on patients who have had specific treatments in the past, and those who have not.