The Benefits of Clinical Trials

In honor of Cancer Research Month this May, we’re breaking down the importance of clinical trials and the impact they have on cancer research. Clinical trials help move the needle forward in the advancement of cancer treatment. 

What Are Clinical Trials?

Clinical trials are research studies that test new ways to treat cancer, relieve symptoms and side effects, prevent cancer, and analyze the effectiveness of new medications or treatments.

Why are Clinical Trials Important?

Clinical trials are important because they showcase the effectiveness of new treatments and medications in treating cancer. Important questions to ask to analyze the effectiveness of a clinical trial are:

  • Does the new treatment work in humans?

  • How effective is the new treatment? 

  • Is the new treatment more effective than the current treatment being used? 

  • Does the new treatment cause side effects? 

  • Is the new treatment safe? 

What are the Benefits of Joining a Clinical Trial?

If you have a cancer diagnosis and are contemplating your treatment options, consider participating in a clinical trial. There are several benefits of joining a clinical trial including access to the latest cancer treatments, close monitoring and more frequent check-ins with doctors and nurses, and an opportunity to contribute to the advancement of cancer research. In many cases, clinical trial drug costs are covered by the research team.  

Who is Eligible to Participate?

Each clinical trial has specific requirements to determine eligibility. Common requirements include health factors, medical history, age, the type and stage of disease, and treatment history. 

What are the Clinical Trial Phases:

Clinical trials that test new cancer treatments typically consist of four phases. Whether a treatment moves on to the next phase depends on the results from the prior phase. Phases one and two test for safety, including any side effects and safe dose amounts. Phases three and four compare the new treatment results to the standard treatment to test if the new treatment is more effective. 

How Long Do Clinical Trials Run?

The duration of a clinical trial depends on many factors and can take months to years to complete. 

Where Do Clinical Trials Take Place? 

Clinical trials take place in several locations, including doctors’ offices, cancer centers, medical centers, hospitals, and clinics. 

What are the Different Types of Cancer Clinical Trials?

A variety of clinical trials are being conducted, including treatment, prevention, screening, supportive care, and palliative care trials. 

Treatment Trials 

The majority of cancer clinical trials are cancer treatment studies. These trials test new treatments or new ways to manage existing treatments, including medication, vaccines, surgery or radiation therapy approaches, or treatment combinations. 

Prevention Trials

Prevention trials test ways to prevent cancer and consist of either action studies or agent studies. 

Screening Trials

Cancer screening trials aim to test ways to detect cancer at an early stage and before it causes symptoms.

Supportive Care and Palliative Care Trials

Supportive care and palliative care trials help manage symptoms and side effects, to improve the quality of life for people with cancer.

If you’re considering joining a clinical trial, discuss the benefits and risks, and any other questions you might have with your cancer care team


American Cancer Society: Types and Phases of Clinical Trials

NIH: National Cancer Insitute: What Are Clinical Trials?

NIH: National Cancer Insitute: How Do Clinical Trials Work

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