Are You a Clinical Candidate?

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Are You a Clinical Candidate?

To know if a clinical trial is right for you, consider these five things first

Clinical trials play an important role in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases. If your doctor suggested participating in one or an article in the newspaper piqued your interest, experts at City of Hope want to share five facts about clinical trials:

1. Clinical trials are safe. Whether researchers are examining the effects of a new drug or the benefits of alternative therapies, all patients enrolled in clinical trials receive top-notch care.

“There are misconceptions that some patients will receive sugar pills while others get ‘real’ treatments, but that is not true,” says Douglas Stahl, Ph.D., M.B.A., vice president of clinical research operations at City of Hope. “No one receives less than state-of-the-art care.” A team of experienced health-care providers — ranging from research nurses and oncologists to the principal research investigator — treats patients during a clinical trial.

“There is not just one doctor; the whole infrastructure of the institution is involved in patient care,” Stahl explains.

2. There is a clinical trial for (almost) everyone. According to Stahl, clinical trials are as varied as the patients who participate. There are therapeutic trials to test new drugs or treatments, clinical trials to research cancer screening tools and diagnostic trials to improve early detection. Lifestyle trials even investigate the impact of issues such as diet and exercise on disease prevention and treatment. Despite the number of clinical trials, not all patients will qualify.

“Before taking part in a clinical trial, patients have to be evaluated by clinicians to determine if they are eligible,” Stahl explains.

3. It’s important to be informed. Before signing on to participate in a clinical trial, Marie Jackson, Ph.D., M.B.A., director of clinical research administration and services at City of Hope, suggests asking researchers numerous questions including the goal of the trial, how long it will last, whether there are risks or side effects and what the possible benefits are.

The National Cancer Institute website, www.cancer.gov, offers a comprehensive list of questions in its “Clinical Trials” section that can be printed and referred to during appointments with researchers.

4. Clinical trial information is available online. Find out about all of City of Hope’s clinical trials at http://clinicaltrials.coh.org, including details about eligibility requirements. For details about clinical trials at other sites, Stahl suggests visiting www.clinicaltrials.gov, a national database of all clinical trials, including those running at City of Hope.

5. Clinical trials make a difference. Once a clinical trial is complete, the results are made available to other researchers. Sharing results means that a single clinical trial can influence cancer research all around the world.

“The data we glean from clinical trials contributes to the ongoing benefit of disease research,” says Stahl. — Jodi Helmer

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