24th September is World Cancer Research Day. With the growing incidence of cancer, there is more focus than ever on finding a cure, attaining a better quality of life after treatment and to entirely prevent cancer. One of the pillars of cancer research is clinical trials. Without effective trials, no drugs or treatments can be approved for use. In this blog, we look at why one should participate in a clinical trial, how to find one that is right for you, and questions to ask yourself before you make a decision.
What is a clinical trial?
Clinical research refers to any type of research involving people. It is usually of two kinds: observational studies and clinical trials.
In observational studies, researchers observe risk factors, treatment outcomes etc without taking any measures to alter the outcome. Clinical trials, on the other hand, are how researchers find out if a certain drug or treatment is safe and effective.
Any new drug or treatment must go through four stages of clinical trials before it can be approved by regulatory bodies like the FDA.
How safe are clinical trials?
Many patients hesitate to participate in clinical trials because they are worried that it is unsafe. In the past, certain infamous clinical trials have put the life and wellbeing of their participants in danger. But since then, the rules and ethics governing research have improved greatly. Scientific bodies and governments have regulations in place to ensure that the safety of each and every participant of clinical trials is protected.
Most drugs are required to be tested on animals before they are tested on humans. Only if found to be effective and safe for animals, do these drugs qualify for testing on humans.
However, the particulars of each clinical trial can vary. It is the right of each participant to be made aware of the possible outcomes of the clinical trial. Their informed consent is essential.
What are the benefits for me?
If you are a cancer patient whose current treatment is not showing the desired results, you may stand to gain by joining a clinical trial.
- You will be able to access drugs and treatment before they become available to the general public. This gives you an edge as you save time.
- You will get medical care and regular check-ups as part of your clinical trial. You do not have to bear any costs for the treatment, tests or drugs that are a part of the clinical trial.
- You will be helping future generations get this treatment by being a participant in the trials.
What are the risks of clinical trials?
Here are some things you need to consider before you agree to participate in a clinical trial:
- Most clinical trials have two groups of participants. One group (called experimental group) receives the new drug or treatment, while the other group (called control group) does not. This is to compare the outcomes for the two groups, to check the effectiveness of the new drug or treatment. It is possible that you may be placed in the control group and therefore, not get the new drug or treatment. The participants are not informed which group they belong to. However, this still gives you a 50% chance of getting the new drug or treatment if you are a part of the trial.
- Even if you do get the drugs, there is some chance that the drug may not work for you, or may work only as well as the previous treatment you were on.
- Some drugs or treatments may have side-effects that may lead to discomfort.
- You may be required to be present for multiple medical procedures, check-ups etc and this may also involve traveling to the site multiple times. This may inconvenience you.
In spite of the above problems, several patients fervently hope to be accepted into a clinical trial because it gives them a chance to try out what could be a superior drug or treatment than what they currently have access to.
How can I find a clinical trial for me?
Onco can help you find out if there is any clinical trial currently open that fits your requirement. Call 79965 79965 to speak to an Onco Care Manager today.