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Why would a patient be interested in a clinical trial



Patients usually take part in clinical trials for many reasons. Usually, they hope for benefits for themselves. They may hope for a cure of disease, a longer time to live, a way to feel better. Often they want to contribute to a research effort that may help others.

Based on what researchers learn from laboratory studies, and sometimes earlier clinical studies and standard treatments as well, they design a trial to see if a new treatment will improve on current treatments. The hope is that it will. Often researchers use standard treatments as the building blocks to try to design better treatments.

Although there is always a chance that a new treatment will be disappointing, the researchers involved in a study have reason to believe that it will be as good as, or better than, current treatments.

The patients in a clinical trial are among the first to receive new research treatments before they are widely available. How a treatment will work for a patient in a trial can't be known ahead of time. Even standard treatments, although effective in many patients, do not carry sure benefits for everyone. But patients should choose if they want to take part in a study or not, only after they understand both the possible risks and the benefits.

The patients who take part in clinical trial procedures that do prove to be better treatments have the first chance to benefit from them. All patients in clinical trials are carefully monitored during a trial and followed up afterwards. They become part of a network of clinical trials carried out around the country. In this network, doctors and researchers pool their ideas and experience to design and monitor clinical studies. They share their knowledge from many specialties about cancer treatment and care. Patients in these studies receive the benefit of their expertise. At cancer centers such as Baptist Health Louisville, patients receive care from a special research team.

The above information is taken from "What Are Clinical Trials All About?" published by the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute