Clinical trials are research studies that help to determine whether new treatments are safe and effective, or better than existing treatments. In most cases, the treatment that is being studied in a clinical trial has already shown promise of being an improvement over the standard treatment. Clinical trials are important because their results help doctors understand which treatments, or combinations of treatments, provide the best results. In lung cancer, clinical trials have helped doctors discover targeted treatments, as well as helping to define how best to combine chemotherapy and radiation.
If a new treatment offered in a clinical trial proves to be effective, it may become a new standard of care. Many of today’s most effective treatments are based on results from previous clinical trials. Because of progress made through clinical trials, many people with cancer are living longer and better. Patients enrolled in a clinical trial may be the first to receive new treatments before they become widely offered.
Questions to Ask
- What are the eligibility criteria for the trial, and do I meet those criteria?
- What are the potential side effects of the new treatment, and are there steps in place to treat side effects?
- Will participation in a clinical trial mean travel to another medical facility, city, or state? If so, how often?
- How much of my time will be required for the tests?
- Can members of my family accompany me to treatment?
- Does my insurance cover the costs of this clinical trial’s treatment? Will the project “sponsor” pick up any of the costs?
- I know I can stop the trial at any time. If that happens, what next?