Years ago, little was known about the different types of specific cancer or about how the unique nature of each cancer type could affect treatment outcomes. Today, what we have learned from clinical trials has changed cancer treatment from a one-size-fits-all approach to a choice of more-tailored therapies which have made both longer survival and improved quality of life after treatment a reality for many men and women. These treatment breakthroughs never would have happened without thousands of men and women choosing to participate in clinical trials.
Clinical trials are research studies that test all kinds of procedures, drugs, vaccines and treatment methods with the goal of finding new ways to treat disease- including cancer. People who take part in clinical trials are volunteers. Also, many of the treatments used today are the result of successful trials. Form some patients, clinical trials may be a good option, but deciding to take part is an important decision to be made by the patient, their family and physician. At Phoenixville Hospital, we offer access to several clinical trials.
Depending on the goals of the trial, there a several different types:
Prevention Trials look for improved ways to reduce the risk of cancer in people who have never had it or to prevent cancer from recurring.
Screening Trials test the best way to detect cancer
Diagnostic Trials are conducted to find better tests or procedures for diagnosing a particular cancer
Therapeutic Trials look for new ways to treat cancer by studying:
- The effects of a new medicine, surgery or radiation treatment
- New combinations of existing medicines or therapies
- New treatment sequences
- New dosing schedules or methods by which the dose is given
- Entirely new methods to deliver treatment, such as gene therapy or vaccines
Quality-of-life Trials explore ways to improve comfort and the quality of life or people with cancer
Am I Eligible for a Clinical Trial?
Every clinical trial has a different set of specific eligibility requirements, with the patient characteristics most appropriate for the study. These characteristics generally include how young or old a person must be to join, what type and stage of cancer that person has, what previous treatments they have undergone and other medical problems the person may have.
Potential Benefits of Clinical Trials
- You may have access to new medicines, combinations of medicines or treatment methods that are not otherwise available to you.
- Your cancer treatment is closely monitored by both your clinical and research team members
- If a new treatment works, you may benefit from it before it is generally available to others.
- Some trials give you access to medicines, complementary treatments or supportive therapies.
What Rights and Protections Do I Have in a Clinical Trial?
Clinical trials are reviewed at a national level and again locally. Each hospital or cancer center has an Institutional Review Board (IRB). It is the job of the IRB to review clinical trials and make sure they are run in a safe and fair manner. Our IRB has many different members, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, patient advocates, patients and people from the community.
Before you join a clinical trial, a healthcare provider will explain who the trial is for and what will happen. You can ask any questions you have about the trial. You will also be given a consent form to sign.
The consent form gives you:
- Detailed information about the clinical trial
- What to expect during the trial
- The expected end date of the trial
- The possible side effects from the treatment and more
Not taking part in a clinical trial is your choice. Clinical trials are voluntary. As part of the process, you will discuss with your doctor, other healthcare team members and your family all of the treatment options available to you. This will help you decide if participating in a clinical trial is right for you.
If you have any interest in participating in a clinical trial or if you would like more information about research studies please contact our Clinical Research Nurse at 610-983-1811.
The Phoenixville Hospital Cancer Center is a member of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Network – Jefferson Health.
Some content on this page provided courtesy of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
View our currently active clinical trials.