Why Clinical Trials?

  • Clinical trials enroll people in studies to help make progress in preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer.
  • Each clinical trial follows a set of rules called a protocol that describes who can participate in the study and how the treatment will be given and monitored.
  • Governmental and non-governmental organizations may sponsor clinical trials, and people may participate in a clinical trial at a variety of hospitals and doctors’ offices.
  • The sponsor pays for many of the costs of participating in a clinical trial, but it is important to talk with your doctor about the possible costs you’ll need to pay.

To make scientific advances, doctors create research studies involving volunteers, called clinical trials. Many clinical trials evaluate new treatments to find out whether they are safe, effective, and possibly better than the current (standard) treatment. However, there are many different types of clinical trials. Some studies test different combinations of existing treatments, new approaches to radiation therapy or surgery, and new methods of treatment. There are also clinical trials that study new ways to ease symptoms and side effects during treatment and manage the late effects that may occur after treatment. In addition, there are ongoing studies about ways to prevent cancer.

Some clinical trials, called placebo-controlled clinical trials, compare a new treatment with a placebo (an inactive drug or treatment). The use of placebos alone in cancer clinical trials is rare; they are used when there is no effective, standard treatment available, or they are given in addition to standard treatment. They are also given along with treatment to manage any symptoms and side effects of the cancer, called supportive or palliative care. The research team will let participants know when a placebo is a possible option in a study. Find out more about placebos in cancer clinical trials.

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