MyLifeLine: Learn About Clinical Trials
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published here on MyLifeLine.org. The mission of MyLifeLine.org is to empower cancer patients and caregivers to build an online support community of family and friends to foster connection, inspiration, and healing through free, personalized websites.
Learn About Clinical Trials
Why consider a cancer clinical trial?
What clinical trials can offer, from the care you receive to the impact you can make.
Clinical trials offer a chance to receive investigational medicines or procedures that experts think might improve the treatment of cancer. This important option is not limited to people who have run out of choices. In fact, there may be clinical trials for every stage of disease in dozens of cancer types. In this video, patients and doctors share their perspectives on why joining a clinical trial may be an option worth considering.
“To have the opportunity to go on a clinical trial for a patient is extremely exciting.” —Sandra Swain, MD; oncologist
How to know if a cancer clinical trial is right for you.
There are many factors to keep in mind when considering a cancer clinical trial.
As with any important decision, it’s a good idea to think about the risks and benefits of joining a cancer clinical trial. This video encourages you to ask your medical team about all of your treatment options, including cancer clinical trials. Trial participants, doctors, and patient advocates explain the factors you’ll want to keep in mind as you consider your treatment plan.
“I’ve always advised patients…when the circumstances weren’t urgent, to take time to understand their disease and to evaluate the alternatives.” —Sandra Horning, MD; oncologist and chief medical officer
What to ask your doctor(s)
Asking The Right Questions Keeps You Involved In Your Care
A cancer diagnosis is often overwhelming, and it’s sometimes hard to gather your thoughts and know the right questions to ask. This video talks you through some of the questions it will be helpful to ask about your cancer, your treatment options, your doctor, and about whether participating in a cancer clinical trial is right for you.
“Talk to your doctor and say, ‘Tell me my full options.’ Raise questions. Be a pain in the neck. That’s what the doctor is there for.” —Arthur Caplan, PhD; medical ethicist
Rules And Procedures Are In Place So That You Will Receive High-Quality Care
Before a single patient can join a trial, many different experts must approve every detail of the study—from why it’s being done to how often patients should be monitored. Once the trial begins, more unbiased experts provide oversight to check that the rules of the trial are being followed and patients’ rights are protected. This video features doctors and patient rights advocates explaining the high standards by which trials are developed and run.
“I explain…that when they’re on a clinical trial, they’re going to be followed very closely by…specific guidelines.” —Daniel P. McKellar, MD; surgeon and Commission on Cancer chairman
Informed Consent Describes The Study Process, Potential Risks And Benefits, And Your Rights As A Participant
If you are eligible and decide to join a trial, you will be required to review and sign the informed consent forms. This can be an overwhelming process, but it is how you will learn all the details of the trial, including the potential benefits and the possible risks, and give your permission to be treated. This video features patients, doctors, and patient rights advocates who offer tips and insights to help you navigate the process of informed consent.
“When I received the stack of papers…it made me realize this is really serious. But then…it was actually a good feeling to know that this was not something that was being done lightly.” —Rose Gerber; trial participant
Information And Support Are Close At Hand
Because so many people have been affected by cancer, there are many reliable and helpful resources to help you through your cancer journey. In this video, trial participants and doctors help you find the people and resources that may be helpful in educating you about cancer clinical trials.
“The first thing is to hold on tight and be optimistic and to get very engaged and educated about your cancer.” —Jack Whelan; trial participant
Reliable Resources To Help Along The Way
First, talk to your doctor
Your healthcare team is the best source for information about your treatment options, including cancer clinical trials. There are many questions you’ll want to ask your healthcare team when you’re ready to discuss treatment options. Print this helpful Discussion Guide and bring it to your next appointment so that you don’t forget anything important. Record your answers on the form and keep it handy for future reference.
Where to find information about cancer clinical trials
These clinical trial resources will help you find trials that might be right for you.
- CT and American Cancer Society (ACS) Clinical Trials Matching Service toll-free number: 877-970-7848
- ACS Clinical Trials Matching Service
- This free, confidential program helps patients, their families, and healthcare workers find cancer clinical trials most appropriate to a patient’s medical and personal situation. We can help you find research studies that are testing new drugs or methods to prevent, detect, or treat cancer
- National Cancer Institute clinical trials search form
- National Institutes of Health trial database
These trustworthy sources provide assistance with trial-related costs, which may not always be covered by insurance.
- ACS lodging programs for patients and caregivers
- ACS transportation to treatment
- Lazarex Cancer Foundation
Additional nationwide support organizations
Don’t go it alone
There are millions of people just like you who are ready to ACT against cancer. These organizations provide advocacy, information, awareness, fundraising opportunities, and a community of like-minded people touched by cancer.