As the patient, you are the only one who can answer the question: Are cancer clinical trials worth it? Like every other health decision, you must weigh the pros and cons of participation, dispel the myths, and receive the answers to your most pressing questions.
In this guide, we help you decide whether it’s a good idea to participate in a cancer clinical trial.
Are Cancer Clinical Trials Worth It? The Pros and Cons
There are pros and cons for every cancer clinical trial, making many patients wonder if they’re worth it. It’s essential to consider all factors before deciding if you should participate.
- There might be opportunities for additional or more extended check-ups.
- Your participation in the cancer clinical trial could positively impact future patients.
- Your treatment might only be available as part of a trial.
- There might be more opportunities to receive other blood tests, cancer tests, or scans that are not available during your current treatments.
- New treatments could work better than what is currently available in standard treatments.
- Extra or lengthier check-ups cost more time and money.
- Participation might have potential side effects.
- Participation might be randomized, which means you might not have a choice regarding the treatments that you receive.
- Insurance companies may not cover the clinical trial’s costs.
- Even though some treatments work for others, they might not work for you.
Myths and Facts about Cancer Clinical Trials
When patients participate in cancer clinical trials, they’re paving the way for discoveries, breakthroughs, and treatment options. However, there are many myths preventing some cancer patients from participating.
- Myth: The only time that patients can participate in cancer clinical trials is if no other options are available.
- Fact: Patients have access to trials at all times, no matter when they get a diagnosis or treatments.
- Myth: Cancer clinical trials require researchers to administer placebos.
- Fact: Cancer clinical trials rarely involve administering placebos. The only time that this could happen is if no other study is available to compare results with, so they must set up a comparison.
- Myth: Patients participating in cancer clinical trials are increasing their risks.
- Fact: Even though no trial is free from risk, safety precautions and other measures are in place to help reduce risks.
- Myth: Patients must remain in the clinical trial until it finishes.
- Fact: Patients have the right to refuse treatments during clinical trials at any time and for any reason. If patients decide not to participate, medical professionals continue monitoring them for a specific timeframe to ensure that they don’t experience adverse side effects.
How to Decide if a Cancer Clinical Trial Is the Ideal Option for You
There are several steps that you should take when deciding if a clinical trial is an ideal option. Start by understanding what to expect from the trial. Then, determine where you can find support groups and what you should do if you receive a doctor’s recommendation.
Understanding What to Expect
There are four types of cancer clinical trials: new treatments, side effects and symptoms, long-term side effects, and looking for and preventing cancer. Every cancer clinical trial must follow specific protocols, which include:
- Those who can and cannot participate
- How much and how often patients must receive treatments
- When patients must undergo medical procedures and testing
- The length of the clinical trial
- How medical professionals use the trial’s results
Knowing the Available Support Groups
- Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: Clinical Trial Support Center (CTSC)
- Cancer.net: Support Groups
- MD Anderson Cancer Center: Support Groups
- Smart Patients Clinical Trial Community
Receiving a Doctor’s Recommendation
Your doctor might recommend a cancer clinical trial if they know that it matches your type of cancer. Sometimes, trials include therapies that aren’t available and could control or cure your cancer. Always speak to your doctor about why they’re making this recommendation and the pros and cons of participating.
Frequently Asked Questions about Cancer Clinical Trials
You may understand that cancer clinical trials can help medical professionals worldwide effectively treat cancer. However, you probably still have questions and concerns about the benefits, risks, expectations, eligibility, and starting the trial.
What are the benefits?
Some participants have access to drugs, therapies, and treatments that aren’t available under their current care plan. Besides making a valuable contribution to cancer research, you’re also taking an active role in your fight against this disease.
Are there risks that I should consider?
Some cancer clinical trials cause side effects, but all participants are closely monitored to ensure comfort and safety. That said, while a treatment might work well for some patients, that doesn’t guarantee it will work for everyone.
Should I expect to get a placebo?
A myth about cancer clinical trials is that they all include placebos, which are treatments that don’t have any positive or adverse effects. However, this is rarely the case. On the off chance that this happens, it’s because there isn’t another clinical trial to which researchers can make comparisons.
How do I know if I’m eligible?
Every cancer clinical trial outlines specific guidelines, or eligibility criteria, regarding who can and cannot participate. Examples include the participant’s age, cancer type, gender, health conditions, and treatments.
When can I begin a clinical trial?
Patients can look for cancer clinical trials at any point following their diagnosis. Some medical professionals recommend that patients research cancer trials immediately after they begin treatment. This way, they know from the start what’s available and the eligibility requirements.
So, are cancer clinical trials worth it? The answer to that isn’t something that patients should take lightly. It isn’t uncommon to have concerns. However, keep in mind that researchers spend years working on trials before they look for participants. They want to ensure the safety and reliability of their trial.
When you sign up for Ciitizen’s Clinical Trial Matching Program, your medical record data will be matched against every cancer clinical trial throughout the country. Then, you’ll be provided with a customized report showing your personalized matches. Learn more by visiting the free clinical trial matching service page.
Ciitizen is a free service that helps patients get more out of their health records. Our platform enables patients to find better treatment options and gives them the opportunity to advance the research for cures.
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