Clinical Trials

A cancer clinical trial is a carefully controlled research study conducted by doctors to improve the care and treatment of people who have cancer. A treatment that's proven safe and effective in a cancer clinical trial may be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as a standard treatment if it meets one or both of the following criteria:

  • It's more effective than the current standard treatment.
  • It has fewer side effects than the current standard treatment

The purpose of blood cancer clinical trials is to:

  • Improve treatment options
  • Increase survival
  • Improve quality of life

Advances in treatment for blood cancers depend on clinical trials of new therapies or new therapy combinations. Different types of cancer clinical trials are designed to develop and test new and better ways to:

  • Diagnose and treat cancer in people
  • Prevent or relieve treatment side effects
  • Help prevent a return of cancer
  • Improve comfort and quality of life for people with cancer

When considering entering a clinical trial, it is important to understand which charges are covered by the clinical trial sponsor, which are covered by the patient, and which are covered by the insurance company.

Who Can Participate?

Clinical trials are appropriate for people of different types and ages, depending on the purpose and phase of the trial. Your eligibility for any given clinical trial depends on many factors, especially your disease type and stage; your age, gender and race; and other treatments you've used.

Your doctor may speak to you about participating in a clinical trial. If he or she doesn't discuss the possibility of a clinical trial with you and you'd like to know more about joining one as a treatment option, you can bring up the topic yourself. You don't have to wait until your disease is in an advanced state to participate in a clinical trial. A trial can be designed to test a new treatment that improves response rates or improves the quality of life for patients with newly diagnosed or limited disease.

Clinical trials cover a wide range of research and are designed with specific requirements that determine who is eligible to participate. For instance, researchers may be specifically looking for patients who:

  • Have already tried standard treatment
  • Have not had any previous treatment
  • Have had standard treatment and are able to wait for a period before switching to a study treatment
  • Do not have co-existing medical conditions such as liver or kidney disease

Who's on the Clinical Trial Team?

A clinical trial team is made up of doctors, nurses, social workers and other healthcare professionals. The team members:

  • Check each participant's health at the beginning of the trial
  • Give specific instructions for taking part in the trial
  • Monitor each participant's health throughout the trial
  • In some cases, follow up with patients after the trial is over
Your regular doctor or healthcare provider coordinates with the research team to ensure that other ongoing drugs or treatments you're receiving won't interfere with the study treatment.