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What is a Clinical Trial?

Clinical trials are research studies involving cancer patients. The studies are designed in many different ways. Some evaluate new cutting-edge therapies. Others compare two different treatments to determine which is better. Ultimately, the goal of each clinical trial is to quickly and safely find new and improved ways to treat cancer.

Clinical trials are important to patients because they offer the opportunity to take advantage of all kinds of new therapies, including new drugs or new ways to use existing drugs, new radiation therapy, new kinds of surgery and new ways to combine different cancer treatments. In addition, they are important because they help future patients. All standard cancer treatments used today are available because patients agreed to participate in clinical studies years ago that proved those treatments worked. There is no way to be sure that treatment provided through a clinical study will work against your cancer, but one thing is certain: Participation in clinical studies helps future patients.

Patient safety is the most important part of everything we do at the Siteman Cancer Center, and that principle is applied to each of our clinical trials. Before any new drug is used in a trial, it is first tested for several years in a research laboratory to confirm the drug is safe and possibly helpful for patients with cancer. Then, before any clinical trial is started at Siteman, it must first be reviewed and approved by a governing body that is dedicated solely to the protection of patients.

Our doctors will only offer a study if they believe it is one of the best possible treatment options for you. If at any time your doctor believes a clinical study is no longer benefiting you or there is a better therapy available, he or she will change your treatment plan to make sure you are receiving the best possible care.

Whether or not you participate in a clinical study is entirely up to you. If you do agree to participate, you can withdraw from the study any time you choose. Withdrawing from a study will not affect the quality of your care. Your care will always be our top priority.

Patients who participate in clinical trials see the same doctors and nurses as other patients. However, they have an extra layer of support while they are participating in a study. Siteman has a team of nearly 100 staff members who work on our clinical trials, and one specific person is assigned to each study. That person works with our doctors and nurses to help make sure research participants are safe at all times and to provide additional assistance to any patients who may need it.

Only you and your doctor can decide if a clinical trial is best for you, but we encourage all patients to ask their doctor if a trial is available and appropriate for them.