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. Patients may consider enrolling in a clinical trial to gain access to experimental new therapies or techniques that are still in the investigational stage. Most treatments we use today for prostate cancer are the results of past clinical trials. Download ZERO’s free brochure providing an in-depth look at all aspects of clinical trials.
Many times people do not participate in a clinical trial because they did not know they were eligible or that one was available. It is important to ask and learn about clinical trials when you are making a treatment decision, as one may be an option for you.
Participating in a clinical trial is a way to gain access to promising and perhaps effective drugs yet to be approved by the FDA. Hundreds of research projects are currently investigating the potential of new drugs and new combinations of drugs. Clinical trials also test whether a new treatment is better at treating the cancer than the best treatment available today. The best treatment available today is known as the ‘standard of care’.
Information about clinical trials was the most needed education topic by patients, survivors, and caregivers who participated in the ZERO education survey and had been living with the disease for some time.
Clinical trials follow strict guidelines and are highly controlled and regulated to provide the best protection to participants. A clinical trial consists of at least two groups depending upon the study protocol. A study protocol is a plan that describes the schedule of tests, procedures, medications and dosages, and the length of the study. One group of patients will receive the experimental drug or treatment and the other group of patients will receive either the standard of care or a placebo which has no therapeutic value. However, placebos are almost never used in cancer treatment trials.
Historically, people of color are underrepresented in clinical trials. Diversity in clinical trial participation is critical to understanding the safety and efficacy of treatment options. When clinical trial participants are the same age, race, and ethnicity, data from that clinical trial will fail to help researchers learn how different people may have different responses to the same medication. For more information on diversity in clinical trials, visit the Health Equity section of our website.
Click the links below to learn more about other aspects of clinical trials.
- Types of Trials
- Clinical Trial Phases
- Informed Consent and Patient Protection
Regardless of which group they are in, all patients receive the same level of medical attention and care. In most clinical trials, the health of the participants is monitored both during and after the study period. The government, study sponsors, and outside groups monitor results throughout the trial. They are typically sponsored by the federal government, pharmaceutical or biotech companies, medical institutions, or private foundations. Many clinical trials are successful in finding promising new treatments for prostate cancer, such as the ALSYMPCA trial described by Dr. Alicia Morgans in the video below.
Clinical trials have helped hundreds of thousands of people – who are alive today – because new, more effective treatments became available. It’s important to take charge of your health and educate yourself about clinical trials. A survey of 2,000 cancer survivors conducted by the Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups and Northwestern University in 2006 found only 12 percent of men were aware of prostate cancer clinical trials while being treated for the disease.
Clinical Trials Webinar
Are you considering a clinical trial? How safe are clinical trials? How do you know if your clinical trial is working? The webinar below, hosted by ZERO in partnership with Us TOO and OncoGenex, features Dr. Tomasz Beer, Deputy Director at the Oregon Health & Science University. Dr. Beer covers everything you need to know about clinical trials.