Clinical trials are at the forefront of investigating potential treatments for prostate cancer. Doctors develop research studies that rely on volunteers and involve investigating new medicines. They are available to patients of all types and stages of prostate cancer. Below are some frequently asked questions about clinical studies that we receive here at ZERO.
What is a clinical trial?
Clinical trials are research studies involving volunteers. Participants are assigned to one or more interventions (or ‘study treatments’). Interventions may include placebo (an inactive treatment) but for cancer studies, patients will always receive the Standard of Care (the current available treatment) or the investigational treatment. The goal of clinical trials is to evaluate the effects of those interventions on health-related biomedical or behavioral outcomes. Clinical trials are completely confidential and can be instrumental in changing the typical treatment of a disease. Participants are closely monitored throughout the process. Personal identification information is removed and the data can be used to determine if a study treatment is safe and effective.
“Clinical trials are one of the ways in which we advance science, drug development, imaging studies,” Dr. Elisabeth Heath told ZERO. “They don’t just involve drugs; sometimes they’re quality of life surveys, sometimes they’re just getting your opinions, sometimes they’re about certain devices, sometimes they’re on imaging studies. Make sure you ask your physician if you’re eligible for a trial.”
Where do clinical trials take place?
Clinical trials are underway all over the country, and even the world. And while there have been some delays due to the pandemic, trials are still enrolling patients today. “When we first as a nation sort of shut down in March due to COVID-19, trials largely shut down as well,” says Dr. Heath. “They took a big hit, but so many of us are still highly committed to making sure that we move forward. There are still plenty of trials that are actively occurring and I’m hopeful that prostate cancer patients give us a chance to listen and learn and figure out which trials are currently available.”
What are the benefits of volunteering for a trial?
Participants in a clinical trial often have access to investigational assets not yet approved and available to the general public. As part of the trial protocol, all participants are closely monitored throughout the trial. By assisting researchers in their development of potential treatments, participants can positively affect the lives of patients who come after them. Participants may also learn about different support groups and other resources.
Who can participate in a clinical trial?
Every clinical trial has its own criteria for participation. These could range from age, gender, stage of disease, previous treatment history, and other conditions. Study participants are volunteers and have the right to stop participating in a trial at any time.
How can I participate?
Ask your doctor if a clinical trial may be right for you. Deciding to participate in a clinical trial for prostate cancer treatment is a personal decision that every patient must make for himself.