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Clinical Trials - What Can I Expect?

Clinical trials, also called research studies, test new treatments in people with cancer.  The goal of this research is to find better ways to treat cancer patients.  Clinical trials test many types of treatment such as new drugs, new approaches to surgery or radiation therapy, or new combinations of treatments.

Clinical trials are important in two ways.  Clinical trials contribute to knowledge and progress against cancer.  If a new treatment proves effective in a study, it may become a new standard treatment that can help many patients.  Many of today’s most effective standard treatments are based on previous study results. Clinical trials also answer important scientific questions and suggest future research directions. Because of progress made through clinical trials, many people treated for cancer are now living longer.
Secondly, patients who take part in a clinical trial may be helped personally by the treatment they receive.  They get up-to-date care from cancer experts and they receive either a new treatment being tested or the best available standard treatment for their cancer.  There is no guarantee that a new treatment being tested or a standard treatment will produce good results. New treatments also may have unknown risks.  If a new treatment proves effective or more effective than standard treatment, study patients who receive it may be among the first to benefit.  Some patients receive standard treatment and benefit from it as well.
Many patients often choose to receive their first treatment in a clinical trial.