These are some commonly asked questions about clinical trials that may help you understand the process and the importance of cancer research. For more information, visit the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center's website.
What is a clinical trial?
Participants in a clinical trial will receive interventions from medical researchers or medical doctors. These interventions could be procedures, medical products, drugs or changes to the participant’s behavior, such as diet change. When a new product or approach is being studied, it is not known if the treatment will be helpful or harmful. The medical researchers are trying to determine the safety and effectiveness of the intervention by measuring outcomes in participants.
Where are clinical studies conducted, and how long do they last?
Clinical studies make take place at hospitals, universities, doctor’s offices or community clinics. Location may vary. Length of the study also varies, but participants will be told how long the study will last before enrolling.
Why are clinical trials important?
Clinical trials add to medical knowledge related to treatment, diagnosis and prevention of diseases or conditions. The results of these studies can make a difference in the care of future patients by providing information about the benefits and risks of new treatments. Some trials may provide participants with the chance of receiving direct medical benefits. When previous treatments have become exhausted with patients, clinical trials are often a favorable option.
Who can participate?
Researchers have criteria for their participants. Some research studies seek participants who have the illnesses or conditions that will be studied. Some look for healthy participants. Gender, age, the type and stage of the disease, previous treatment history and other medical conditions will also be considered.
How is my safety protected?
National and international regulations and policies have been developed to protect the rights, safety, and well-being of people who take part in clinical trials and to ensure that trials are conducted according to strict scientific and ethical principles.
Why donate to clinical trial research?
Cancer survivors are living longer and have a better quality of life than ever before. None of this would have been possible without clinical trials. Because of research through clinical trials, scientists and cancer researchers have been able to translate discoveries into new treatments for cancer.