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by Dr. Charles Ryan   |   January 27, 2021

DEMYSTIFYING CLINICAL TRIALS WITH DR. CHARLES RYAN

As a doctor, I often get questions about clinical trials from my patients. A clinical trial is a research study that involves people. The studies are an investigation of an experimental treatment to see if it is safe to use and effective in fighting the disease. 

As a patient, you may consider enrolling in a clinical trial to gain access to experimental new therapies or techniques that are still in the investigational stage. To help you with your decision, I’m going to debunk several myths that I hear often from patients. 

I can only participate in a clinical trial at the medical center where I am currently being treated. 

Not true! Clinical trials are available at many locations around the country, and you don’t have to be receiving treatment there to participate. Your physician, or a quick search at clinicaltrials.gov, can help you locate facilities near you. 

Clinical trials are dangerous because they use new practices and medicines. 

A clinical trial helps make sure the benefits of a potential treatment outweigh the possible risks for most people. However, certain treatments will affect certain people differently. You should discuss all the possible risks with your physician. 

If I join a clinical trial, I might get a placebo instead of an experimental treatment. 

Standard treatments are never withheld as part of a clinical trial. Placebos are used only when there is a benefit to adding to standard treatment, if testing whether treatment versus no treatment is appropriate for a given stage of the disease. 

Being in a clinical trial is expensive and isn’t covered by medical insurance. 

Federal law requires most health insurance plans to cover routine patient care costs in clinical trials under certain conditions. And, in many cases, participants often don’t have to pay for experimental treatment or procedures.

Clinical trials are a last resort for people who have no other treatment options. 

In many cases trials aren’t the last resort — in fact, a clinical trial may be the first choice for patients without other treatment options.

Patients will have to stop all other medical treatments while participating in a clinical trial. 

It depends on your trial. Ask your medical team about pharmaceutical interactions before beginning the trial. 

My privacy is at risk. 

When you are involved in a trial, your data is shared with relevant parties, but it is anonymized. Remember that your involvement will help create positive outcomes for other patients and families. 


There are many investigational clinical trials for metastatic prostate cancer being conducted at this time by Merck. These studies are trying to find out if investigational medications are safe and work to slow down or stop the growth of metastatic prostate cancer, which is prostate cancer that has spread beyond the prostate gland. To learn more, please visit https://merckoncologyclinicaltrials.com or call 1-888-577-8839.