Clinical trials are studies that are done under strict regulations to help find out how treatments work, if they work, if they are safe and if they are as good as or better than other treatments. Usually, patients in clinical trials receive either the existing standard of care or can receive a new treatment. Often, to keep the studies as unbiased as possible, neither you nor your doctor knows which treatment you are receiving. Those studies are described as being “double blind”, but not all are like that. In others, everyone is told exactly what treatments are being given.
Clinical studies are done under strict regulations of both government and healthcare institutions and have to be approved by special ethics boards of any hospital or centre where they take place.
There are often a variety of clinical studies taking place, meaning patients can usually get involved in a study at almost any stage of their treatment. Studies are not just for newly diagnosed patients. If you are interested, ask your doctor if he or she is taking part in any studies in which you could participate, or visit the following website: http://clinicaltrials.gov/.
If you are newly diagnosed and are interested in participating in clinical trials, it is important that you advise your physician prior to starting any new therapy as that could impact your eligibility for in clinical trials.