Cancer clinical trials can have more than one group of patients to help doctors evaluate the efficacy of different treatments. However, all patients in cancer clinical trials receive treatment — regardless of whether they are in the control or placebo group.
Even if they are in a “placebo” group, patients rarely receive placebos (sugar pills) in clinical trials. Instead, those in the control group receive the standard of care (i.e., cancer therapies that are currently approved for their type of cancer) and are closely watched by the doctors and nurses running the trial.
Because clinical trials are testing new therapies, there are risks to participating. Any patient considering participating in a clinical trial should seek out as much information as possible in order to fully understand the treatments being tested and how they may affect him or her.