As the scientific and medical community continues to make new advances in treating diseases, clinical trials serve as a way to gauge the effectiveness of new medicines and treatment methods. In addition to helping researchers make advances in treatment, clinical trials have played an important part in helping patients as well. Clinical trials related to cancer have been particularly useful in helping those affected with the disease make large strides in managing, and increasingly more often, successfully treating the disease.
Types of Trials
If you or a loved one is suffering from cancer, finding a clinical trial appropriate for your particular situation could be a great option in addition to the other treatments recommended by your doctor. Currently, there are several hundred different cancer clinical trials going on around the country, and deciding which to join can be a daunting task. In order to help with that decision, here is a brief overview of the different types of trials available:
Arguably the most important trial phase, the first phase is designed to determine safety issues with the new drug or treatment. This trial is usually limited to a very small group of test subjects who have few other treatment alternatives. This phase seeks to discover:
- maximum treatment dosage tolerated by patients
- how the drug or treatment works in the body
- any harmful side effects
With the treatment specifics and dosage calculations determined in Phase I, the second phase involves a higher number of subjects who are each given the treatment and observed in order to gauge its effectiveness. Typically, this phase is the best option for those with a rare form of cancer searching for new and experimental treatments.
After evaluating the effectiveness of the new treatment, researchers will then compare it to existing treatments through a randomized study.
After the drug or treatment has been proven to be effective, the manufacturer may choose to commence with a final round of trials. In this stage, a large group of participants are monitored to evaluate the continuing effectiveness and side effects of the drug or treatment.
Participating in Trials
If you believe that you or someone you know might be a candidate for any phase of a clinical trial, the best thing to do is schedule an appointment with your doctor for an evaluation of your candidacy and to discuss in detail the various trials available. In addition, you will be able to determine which trials are covered by insurance and which require out-of-pocket payment.
At Longstreet Cancer Center, we are proud to partner with the Cancer Center at Northeast Georgia Medical Center to offer clinic trials to our patients. Currently, the Center partners with several national oncology groups and offers a wide variety of various trials related to many different types of cancer. Our doctors and nurses are committed to helping you or your loved one access the very latest experimental treatments and look forward to guiding you through the clinical trial selection process.