The Importance of Clinical Trials

The exciting advances in personalized medicine have all come about because of clinical trials and the thousands of people with cancer who have taken part in them. These studies also increase the knowledge of tumor genetics through blood and tissue samples examined by pathologists. Some clinical trials are designed to learn more about side effects and quality-of-life issues. Talk to your doctor about whether a clinical trial is right for you.

Here are a number of questions you should ask your doctor about clinical trials. You may want a friend or family member to sit with you during the discussion to take notes.

  • What is the purpose of the study?
  • What is the phase of the trial?
  • What kinds of tests and treatments are involved?
  • How do the possible risks, side effects, and benefits of the study compare with my current treatment?
  • How might this study affect my daily life?
  • How many visits per week or month will I need to make?
  • How long will the study last?
  • Is a hospital stay required?
  • Who will pay for the treatment?
  • Will I be reimbursed for any expenses, such as transportation?
  • What type of long-term follow-up care is part of this study?
  • How will I know that the treatment being studied is working? Will the results of the trial be given to me?
  • Who will be in charge of my care?
  • Are there other experts I can talk to about this study?
  • Can I take the informed consent form home to talk it over with my family or partner?