Why Participate in a Clinical Trial?
When you need treatment for cancer, you may want to think about joining a clinical trial. By looking closely at all options, including clinical trials, you are taking an active role in a decision that affects your life.
This section has information on the risks and benefits of clinical trials to help you decide.
Possible Risks in Treatment Clinical Trials
Every clinical trial is different, which means risks can also differ. Some common risks include:
- The study treatment may not be better than, or even as good as, the standard treatment.
- Study treatments may have serious side effects that are worse than those of the standard treatment.
- You may be required to make more visits to the doctor and have more tests than if you were receiving standard treatment.
- You may have extra expenses related to these extra visits, such as travel, housing, and childcare costs.
Possible Benefits of Joining a Treatment Clinical Trial
Some of the benefits to joining a treatment clinical trial may include:
- The trial may help researchers learn more about cancer and help people in the future.
- You might have access to a treatment that is under study that may not be available to people outside the trial.
- The research team will watch you closely, adding an extra layer of care to your health.
- Though not common, if the treatment being studied is more effective than the standard treatment, you may be among the first to benefit.
Questions to Ask before Joining a Treatment Clinical Trial
If you are thinking about joining a clinical trial, here are some questions you may want to ask your doctor and the study research team.
Questions about the Trial
- What is the purpose of the trial?
- Why do the researchers believe that the treatment being studied may be better than the one being used now? Why may it not be better?
- How long will I be in the trial?
- How many visits will I need to make to the hospital or clinic?
- What kinds of tests and treatments are involved?
- How will the doctor know if the treatment is working?
- How will I be told about the trial’s results?
- How long do I have to make up my mind about joining this trial?
- Who can I speak with about questions I have during and after the trial?
- Who will be in charge of my care?
Questions about Risks and Benefits
- What are the possible side effects or risks of the new treatment?
- What are the possible benefits?
- How do the possible risks and benefits of this trial compare to those of the standard treatment?
Questions about Your Rights
- How will my health information be kept private?
- If I decide to leave the trial, what other options will I have?
Questions about Costs
- Which costs do I have to pay if I take part in the trial?
- What costs will my health insurance cover?
- Who can help answer questions from my insurance company?
- Who can I talk with about costs and payments?
Questions about Daily Life
- How could the trial affect my daily life?
- How often will I have to come to the hospital or clinic?
- Will I have to stay in the hospital during the clinical trial? If so, how often and for how long?
- How far will I need to travel to take part in the trial?
- Will I have check-ups after the trial?
Questions about Comparing Choices
- What are my other treatment choices, including standard treatments?
- How does the treatment I would receive in this trial compare with the other treatment choices?
- What will happen to my cancer if I decide not to have any treatment?