Clinical trials are an important option in cancer care.

Cancer clinical trials are research studies that involve people with cancer. The goal of these studies is to find better ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent cancer. The results of the trials also provide information about how to reduce the risk of cancer in people who have not been diagnosed.

Clinical trials may provide an opportunity for patients to access the latest in cancer care and help identify new therapies for people with cancer. Patients are encouraged to discuss their treatment options, including whether a clinical trial is a viable option, with their health care team. Doctors across the country and around the world follow treatment guidelines developed from the results of clinical trials so they can deliver the best possible care to their patients. Today there are about 12 million cancer survivors in the United States, mainly because the new therapies developed in clinical trials are helping people with cancer live longer than ever before. That is why it is so important to continue this research.

How Do Clinical Trials Work?

A clinical trial often starts with a scientific idea based on the results of laboratory research. Researchers who come up with these ideas usually work in cancer centers, universities, community clinics, pharmaceutical company labs, or hospitals.

Before any treatment is tested in a clinical trial, many scientists and physicians have studied it to learn how the drug is absorbed into the body, how long it lasts in the body, and whether it should be given by mouth or intravenously (through a needle into a vein). Together, doctors and researchers design the studies and submit an investigational new drug application to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Scientists from the FDA review the procedure, technology, or drug and provide input. Additionally, experts review the trial at many different points during its development and make sure that the clinical trial is designed with the overall goal of improving cancer care for patients.

Clinical trials that test new drugs or other treatments are done in phases. Each phase has a different purpose and helps researchers answer different questions. If a new drug or treatment does not seem promising in the early phases, the research can be stopped.