Clinical Trials: Are They Right for You?

Find out the pros and cons of joining a clinical trial for metastatic cancer.

Health Monitor Staff
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Clinical trials are at the heart of modern medical research, but the decision to enroll in one is very personal. The assumptions are always that outcomes are at least as good as standard treatments.

The pros:
You could boost your odds of success. If you have advanced cancer and desire greater benefits from therapy than you have thus far achieved, you could be among the first to benefit from a new drug or a new combination of drugs.

You could get an upgrade from standard treatment. Phase III clinical trials are designed to test the standard treatment for your type of cancer against the standard treatment plus the addition of a new drug—or against a different dosing regimen.

You'll get lots of TLC. Doctors running clinical trials manage every aspect of treatment. The trial's staff will remind you about appointments, plus it's likely that you will be seen more often.

And a few cons:
You'll lose some control over your care. In a Phase III trial, you are usually chosen randomly to try one of two or more treatment options. Given the choice, you might not have picked the treatment you're receiving.

You'll have to expect the unexpected. Clinical trials are done in order to answer questions about potential new treatment options. That means your cancer care team may not be certain about what side effects to expect, or how effective the treatment could be.

October 2012