Fact and Fiction Regarding Clinical Trials for Cancer

Posted by Samantha Powell on November 30th, 2013 |

News Headline:  Fact and Fiction Regarding Clinical Trials for Cancer
Date:  11/30/13
Outlet Full Name: 
About.com – Lung Cancer
Author: Lynne Eldridge


Most of us are familiar with clinical trials as a method to study new drugs and procedures, and many of us have heard references to these studies using words such as “human guinea pig.”

While these myths linger on, it’s important to keep in mind that the only way that a new drug or procedure becomes available for people with cancer – the only way advances in treatment are made – is through the use of clinical trials. That said, only 5% of people with cancer are involved in a clinical trial as part of their cancer treatment.


There are many reasons. But one of these is that there are many myths that circulate the airwaves about these studies. For example:

  • People may be afraid that if the investigational drug or treatment is causing side effects that are intolerable, that they won’t be able to leave the study. Fact: It is your right to stop your involvement in a clinical trial at any time.
  • Another concern is that you will receive a placebo. Fact: In medical studies for cancer a placebo is rarely used – and then only if a treatment that could help more than a placebo is not available.
  • Yet another general thought is that if a clinical trial that may give you an opportunity to use a treatment that appears initially to be superior to standard treatment, your oncologist will tell you. Fact: Physicians are human. With the vast amount of information regarding cancer treatments, and the explosion in new information as a result of our ability to evaluate specific genetic abnormalities in cancer cells, it’s impossible for any one person to be aware of every clinical trial available for every form of cancer worldwide. While your oncologist may very well suggest a clinical trial, it’s now possible to learn about clinical trials online, and matching services are even available in which a nurse navigator can help you determine if there are any clinical trials that may be a match for your particular situation.

There are several other myths about clinical trials. What is fact, and what is fiction? Check out this article:

Myths About Clinical Trials and Medical Studies for Cancer

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