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What is a Clinical Trial?

In cancer research, a clinical trial is a study conducted with cancer patients, usually to evaluate a new treatment. Each study is designed to answer scientific questions and to find new and better ways to help cancer patients. Yale Cancer Center has numerous clinical trials available for patients who are seeking the most advanced treatments available. The search for good cancer treatments begins with basic research in laboratory and animal studies. The best results of that research are tried in patient studies, hopefully leading to findings that may help many people. Before a new treatment is tried with patients, it is carefully studied in the laboratory. This research points out the new methods most likely to succeed and, as much as possible, shows how to use them safely and effectively. But this early research cannot predict exactly how a new treatment will work with patients.

With the development of the Early Phase Clinical Trial Program at Yale Cancer Center there are over 40 Phase I trials open and that number is growing. Early phase trials allow clinicians to look for new causes for drug effectiveness or drug resistance.

With any new treatment there may be risks as well as possible benefits. There may also be some risks that are not yet known. Clinical trials help us find out if a promising new treatment is safe and effective for patients. During a trial, more and more information is gained about a new treatment, its risks, and how well it may or may not work. Standard treatments, the ones now being used, are often the bases for building new, hopefully better treatments. Many new treatments are designed on the basis of what has worked in the past, in efforts to improve on this. You may be interested in or asked to enter a trial, it is important that patients learn as much as they can about a clinical trial. Your oncologist will explain the clinical trial you are eligible to participate in, please ask as many questions as you would like so you fully understand the trial before deciding to participate.

How Should I Prepare for Discussions with my Doctor?

A cancer diagnosis is often overwhelming, and it’s sometimes hard to gather your thoughts and know the right questions to ask. This video talks you through some of the questions it will be helpful to ask about your cancer, your treatment options, your doctor, and about whether participating in a cancer clinical trial is right for you.