Clinical Trials

Understanding Cancer Clinical Trials

Cancer treatment advances coming out of clinical trials offer hope to prolong life, improve treatments, and possibly even offer a cure.

As part of the affiliation with the University of Utah, cancer patients have the opportunity to participate in treatment clinical trials at Huntsman Cancer Institute, a nationally recognized, NCI-designated cancer research facility.

Patients often choose not to take part in available clinical trials for many reasons, including misconceptions about the methods involved. Many times, patients wonder if they will receive the most advanced treatment as a clinical trial participant or if they’ll be treated as a test subject. Fortunately, fears of receiving anything less than the best are unfounded.

Many of the other fears about clinical trials are unnecessary as well. Common worries include the fear of receiving a placebo or having a treatment not covered by insurance. Rest assured, patients always receive the most appropriate treatment available, and many times prior arrangements can be made with the hospital or drug companies to help cover treatment costs.

Every cancer patient considering clinical trials will meet with an oncology nurse to discuss the treatment process and answer any questions. And, because it is voluntary, you may leave the trial at any time.

For more information on clinical trials, contact us at (775) 445-7604.

Participating in Clinical Trials

Whenever you need treatment for your cancer, clinical trials may be an option for you. Choosing to join a clinical trial is something only you, those close to you, and your doctors and nurses can decide together. This section has information you can use when thinking about your treatment choices and making your decision.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

As a treatment option, a clinical trial has possible benefits as well as drawbacks. You may want to discuss the following issues with your doctor and the people close to you.

Possible Benefits

  • Clinical trials offer high-quality cancer care. If you are in a randomized study and do not receive the new treatment being tested, you will receive the best known standard treatment. This may be as good as, or better than, the new approach.
  • If a new treatment is proven to work and you are taking it, you may be among the first to benefit.
  • By looking at the pros and cons of clinical trials and your other treatment choices, you are taking an active role in a decision that affects your life.
  • You have the chance to help others and improve cancer treatment.

Possible Drawbacks

  • New treatments under study are not always better than, or even as good as, standard care.
  • If you receive standard care instead of the new treatment being tested, it may not be as effective as the new approach.
  • New treatments may have side effects that doctors do not expect or that are worse than those of standard treatment.
  • Even if a new treatment has benefits, it may not work for you. Even standard treatments, proven effective for many people, do not help everyone.
  • Health insurance and managed care providers do not always cover all patient care costs in a study. What they cover varies by plan and by study. To find out in advance what costs are likely to be paid in your case, check with your insurance company and talk to a doctor, nurse or social worker from the study