Let’s talk about clinical trials today. Keep reading. Please don’t turn away, this is important!
In my work with various cancer organizations, one thing I have learned is that many people are afraid of clinical trials. Because they are afraid, they won’t participate. Let me explain why we do NOT need to fear these, but in fact embrace them, ask about them and be first in line for them!
Historically, many of us remember the days of placebos and drug trials. A doctor would ask us to be in a trial and we wouldn’t know if we were getting a placebo or the real drug. Because this history is deep in our memory banks, when people hear about clinical trials they tune it out, they say no, they just want to avoid it. However, this is NOT how a cancer clinical trial works! Placebos are NOT part of the process.
The most important thing to know with current clinical trials is that you will get the current “standard of care”. This means, you will receive the drugs, procedures, treatments that are typically advised for your given cancer. What the clinical trial provides is an additional or new therapy. If you participate in a clinical trial you will receive the standard of care and you may receive the additional new treatment.
Hmmm, you ask yourself, so how will they determine if the treatment works if I am getting all the other treatments as well. They compare the results of those with the standard or care vs those with the standard of carve and the clinical trial treatment to determine the impact. They may find with the new treatment that the tumor shrinks more quickly, that the chance of recurrence is significantly less, that the side effects are much less severe.
For you and a loved one the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial can be outstanding. You could end up with results far better than originally expected. Importantly, clinical trials have to occur before these better treatments can become standard of care for everyone else.
Bottom line, ask about a clinical trial. If your doctor mentions it, listen to details about the trial. Not only may this result in a much better outcome for you, it may mean much better outcomes for many people facing your type of cancer.