Clinical Trials Overview
Is a clinical trial of cancer immunotherapy the answer for me?
If you are considering a clinical trial of immunotherapy for yourself or someone you love, this is the right place to start. Many patients and caregivers seek answers to common questions when considering enrolling in a cancer immunotherapy clinical trial. Here you can learn more about the benefits of clinical trials and how to find one that is right for you.
What are clinical trials?
Clinical trials are an important part of medical research and form the basis for the approval of all new medicines and treatments. The primary goal of a clinical trial is to figure out whether a treatment works and if it is safe. Trials can also look at improving survival and quality of life for people with diseases like cancer.
Cancer immunotherapy clinical trials look at ways to treat cancer through immunotherapy. In recent years, immunotherapies tested in clinical trials have provided some patients with long-lasting remissions of cancers that at one time were thought to be incurable.
What makes cancer immunotherapy clinical trials different?
Cancer immunotherapies may not have the same type or severity of side effects that chemotherapy has, such as hair loss and nausea. However, clinical trials of cancer immunotherapy are not without risk. Immunotherapies may cause other side effects through their stimulation of the immune system. Two common side effects of immunotherapy are fever and rash.
It is also important to note that immunotherapies may take longer to work than other therapies, so you might not experience an immediate effect from treatment. However, over time, immunotherapy may offer durable and life-extending benefits.
Why are clinical trials of cancer immunotherapy important?
For patients with certain cancers, participation in a clinical trial may actually offer better and more effective treatment options than treatment with traditional therapies.
Some patients have personally benefited from their involvement in immunotherapy trials, and have also been part of research that has helped benefit others. Without clinical trials and patient participation, the immunotherapies that exist today would not be available to patients.
Should I participate in a clinical trial of immunotherapy?
The decision to participate in a clinical trial is very personal and based on each patient’s unique factors. Today, patients choose to participate in cancer immunotherapy clinical trials for a variety of reasons:
Receive the newest potential treatment for their cancer
Benefit from additional care and monitoring by clinical staff who are experts in cancer treatment
Participate in trials that may help others with cancer, as well as future patients
Contribute to advancing medical treatments for cancer
How do I know if I (or my loved one) will be eligible for a clinical trial?
Cancer immunotherapy is dependent on immune system function. Therefore, many cancer immunotherapy trials exclude patients whose immune systems do not function properly as a result of either disease or use of certain medicines.
Patients who have serious underlying medical conditions, active infections, or are unable to care for themselves are also unlikely to make good candidates for clinical trials.