TRY IT: HealthyWomen’s New Cancer Clinical Trial Navigation Service
Cancer clinical trials continue to be somewhat of a mystery to many people. Yet clinical trials are an important option to consider whenever you or a loved one is making a treatment decision for cancer.
To help provide some clarity and support your exploration of cancer clinical trial options, HealthyWomen is providing these must-know facts, along with details about HealthyWomen’s NEW Cancer Clinical Trial Navigation Service. Our Clinical Trial Navigators are available to help you connect with clinical trials looking for your or a loved one’s specific diagnosis, stage and treatment history.
Consider Clinical Trials at Each Treatment Decision Point
Despite what many people think, clinical trials are not only for people who have exhausted all treatment options.
Clinical trials are available for newly diagnosed patients as well as patients who have had multiple therapies and relapses. Knowing when and how to search is important—each treatment decision you make will render you eligible for some clinical trials and ineligible for others.
There are over 5,000 cancer clinical trials open today in the United States which include evaluations of 900 targeted and immunotherapies. The purpose, design and timing of cancer clinical trials vary widely, including:
Evaluating a new treatment to manage or cure a specific diagnosis
Finding ways to prevent a recurrence at key points in the journey
Evaluating ways to diagnose a condition or recurrence earlier
Looking for ways to improve the comfort and quality of life of people with a chronic illness and reduce side effects from existing treatments
Where to Find Appropriate Clinical Trials
Every clinical trial has specific inclusion and exclusion criteria to make sure that people joining have the same diagnosis and treatment history. HealthyWomen now offers a free, confidential Cancer Clinical Trial Navigation Service to help you identify clinical trials appropriate for you today. To use the Cancer Clinical Trial Navigation Service, sign up HERE, answer the short questionnaire, and we will match your answers to the eligibility criteria of every clinical trial in the country available for your diagnosis. If you have questions along the way, Clinical Trial Navigators are available to help.
Risks/Benefits of Clinical Trials
Participation in a clinical trial brings a host of potential risks and benefits. The benefits include access to new therapies in development otherwise unavailable, more frequent monitoring, and sometimes access to top medical care at elite facilities. Cancer clinical trials typically compare a new therapy to the existing standard of care (not a placebo alone) so participation means you are getting treatment. There is also some evidence suggesting that participants in phase III trials have better outcomes overall than those treated with standard care. But the risks of participation are real and should not be slighted. It is important to remember that participation in a clinical trial is voluntary; you never need to enroll, and you may choose to leave a clinical trial at any time.
There is almost always some risk when you participate in a clinical trial, because many are conducted for the express purpose of determining whether a new drug, device or procedure is safe. However, before clinical testing of a new drug is initiated, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration must examine lab and animal data to estimate the potential risk to humans. If risk is too high compared with the potential benefit, the agency will not allow the trial to begin.
Moreover, each trial site has an institutional review board that evaluates trial proposals for safety. Many trials also have a data safety and monitoring board or committee that reviews the data from time to time and will stop the trial if it finds evidence of safety problems. Such oversight does not eliminate risk, but it does ensure trials are conducted as safely as possible and monitored.