What are clinical trials? How do I find one?
Clinical trials are medical research studies that test the safety and effectiveness of promising approaches to disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. A commonly known type of clinical trial is an “interventional” trial, which means treatment therapies are given to patients in the trial.
When you are diagnosed with lung cancer, you and your doctor should discuss whether or not an interventional clinical trial is a good option for you. If you are interested in taking part in a clinical trial and your doctor has not discussed this with you, be sure to ask if opportunities are available.
How do “interventional” clinical trials work?
Interventional cancer clinical trials may randomly assign patients to a group and provide different types of treatment to each group. Researchers organize the study this way in order to observe any differences between groups. Regardless of which group you get assigned to, you will actively receive a treatment for your condition.
For example, those assigned to what is called the “control” group receive the standard of care, or cancer therapies that are currently approved for their type of cancer. Those assigned to what is called the “experimental” group receive new cancer therapies that are not yet part of the standard of care. All groups are closely watched by the healthcare team running the trial. It is also important to note that not all trials randomly assign patients to groups and this is just one of many ways trials are designed.
Participating in any clinical trial involves both risks and benefits. The team running the trial try their best to control and monitor any harms before they occur. Before joining a clinical trial, it is important to seek out as much information as possible in order to fully understand what your involvement will require and how your condition may be affected. For example, you may have additional office visits, tests, or procedures. Be sure you understand what is involved with a trial as you make your decision.
Why are clinical trials important for lung cancer patients?
Participating in a clinical trial may enable patients to access the newest lung cancer treatments before they are widely available. Patients in clinical trials also receive high-quality care, while helping researchers improve care for current and future cancer patients.
Clinical trials that test cancer treatments might involve the use of drugs, radiation therapy, surgery or other treatment methods. Treatments are only brought to clinical trials after significant prior research shows they have promise. These trials are carefully conducted by doctors and trained teams to ensure that patients receive the best possible treatment and care.
Clinical trials are a critical step in the process of getting new treatment options approved for care. By participating in a clinical trial, you’ll be helping researchers and doctors make lifesaving treatments available to more people like you.
Can I talk to someone who has been through a clinical trial?
To talk with someone who has been through a clinical trial, call the Cancer Hope Network at (800) 552-4366 or fill out this form to get matched with a lung cancer survivor.
What are the potential benefits of a clinical trial?
- Patients get more attention and more frequent check-ups during the clinical trial experience versus not being in one
- Patients get the opportunity to receive cutting-edge cancer treatments that have shown promise in early research for their type and stage of cancer
- Many newer treatments are only available through clinical trials
- Your insurance and/or the trial itself will usually pay for your care in a clinical trial (check with your insurance and/or doctor before you join a trial)
- Patients feel empowered by taking an active role in their care when they sign up for a clinical trial
- Patients like you are investing in the future of cancer therapy for those who are diagnosed after you
- All clinical trial participants are volunteers who can stop at any time, for any reason, and return to the standard of care treatment
How can I find the right trial for me?
Beginning your search for a clinical trial can be a difficult task. To help you get started, we recommend beginning your search on www.clinicaltrials.gov, a U.S. government run database of privately and publicly funded clinical trials. Click here to view the full list for Non-small Cell Lung Cancer trials and here for Small-cell Lung Cancer trials. After identifying a trial that may be a good fit, you may also reach out to any of the contacts listed in the ‘Contacts and Locations’ section of a particular trial by clicking on the trial link and scrolling down to that section.
You can also find more information through these resources: