Q: I’m in a clinical trial and have experienced side effects from the drug I’m taking. What should I do?

A: All cancer treatments, including those given in a clinical trial, can cause side effects. It’s important that you immediately report any side effects that you are experiencing to a doctor or other designated person at the clinical trial site. By doing so, you are helping yourself and contributing significantly to the work of the researchers. It’s also important to report these side effects to your health care team so they can help you manage them. Doing so will improve your quality of life while you are participating in the trial.

Q: Can trials exclude people with certain medical conditions?

A: The safety of clinical trial participants comes first. If the researchers believe that a medical condition puts a person at risk, they will exclude that person from the trial. If you have been excluded, talk to your oncologist about other possible options. Each clinical trial has its own set of enrollment standards, so you might qualify for another trial.

Q: What is a quality-of-life clinical trial?

A: Quality-of-life trials do not evaluate any specific therapy; rather, they address such issues as short-and long-term effects of therapy, prevention of pain and issues related to nutrition and stress. These types of trials are often available to people being treated for cancer.

Q: I’m in treatment for my cancer and doing well. Is there any reason for me to participate in a clinical trial?

A: This is a good topic to discuss with your oncologist. There could be a current or upcoming clinical trial for a treatment that may be of additional benefit to you. Also, some clinical trials evaluate treatments that may prevent the return of cancer after your initial treatment is complete. Your oncologist may suggest you take part in one of these trials in the future.

Q: I’m 75 years old. Is there an upper age limit for participating in a clinical trial?

A: In general, age alone does not exclude a person from participating in a clinical trial. Other factors, including overall health, are taken into consideration when the decision is made to include or exclude a potential trial participant. As researchers are interested in learning about the safety and effectiveness of the drug or drugs being tested in older people, some trials are designed to focus on people in an older age range.