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About Clinical Trials

Introduction

Winship Cancer Institute is dedicated to educating cancer patients and their families about standard cancer treatments and new treatments that are available. A cancer clinical trial is an important option to consider when deciding a course of action.

Cancer clinical trials are research studies that test new treatments to find better ways to treat cancer. There are three types of clinical trials.

Phase I Clinical Trial:
A Phase I trial tests a brand new drug, device or procedure. This type of trial does not look for the medical benefits; it only looks for how well humans handle the new drug or procedure.  Phase I trials are run to see which dose, or how much of the drug works best.

Learn about Winship's Phase I Clinical Trials Unit.

Phase II Clinical Trial:
Phase II trials test the drug to see if it works against a specific disease (like prostate cancer). In these research studies, the researchers record the medical benefits they find.

Phase III Clinical Trial:
In Phase III trials, the new drug or procedure is compared to accepted standard treatment to find out which works best.

In 2013, 760 patients were enrolled in 250 Winship clinical trials, testing new therapies. In the last seven years, 75-percent of new cancer treatments approved by the Food and Drug Administration have been tested in clinical trials available at Winship.

Making an Educated Choice: Pros and Cons


While a clinical trial is a good choice for some people, clinical trials have possible benefits and drawbacks. You can always stop participating in the clinical trial at any time. Here are some Pros and Cons to consider:
 
PROS:
  1. Cancer clinical trials offer high-quality cancer care. In cancer clinical trials if you do not receive the new treatment being tested, you will receive the best standard treatment. This may be as good as, or better than, the new approach.
  2. If a new treatment approach is proven to work and you are taking it, you may be among the first to benefit.
  3. By looking at the Pros and Cons of cancer clinical trials and your other treatment choices, you are taking an active role in a decision that affects your life.
  4. You may have the chance to help others and improve cancer treatment.
CONS:
  1. New treatments in cancer clinical trials are not always better than standard care. You may have side effects that medical care providers do not expect or that are worse than those of standard treatment.
  2. 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.
  3. If you receive standard treatment instead of the new treatment being tested, it may not be as effective as the new approach.
  4. Health insurance and managed care providers do not always cover all patient care costs in a clinical trial. Talk to a financial counselor to find out in advance what costs are likely to be paid in your case.
Should you participate in a Cancer Clinical Trial? The Best Choice is an Educated Choice. If you have any questions talk to your physician or nurse today.
 
For more information on cancer clinical trials or research studies: Ask your medical care provider, or call 1-888-WINSHIP (1-888-946-7447) or (404) 778-1900.
 
Director of Phase I Clinical Trials, Donald Harvey, PharmD, describes the various phases of clinical trials and outlines the program at Winship Cancer Institute in this video:
 


A Patient's Story
Learning from the experiences of cancer patients is invaluable to healthy individuals, current patients and long-term survivors. CancerQuest (www.cancerquest.org), an educational website produced by Winship Cancer Institute and Emory faculty and staff, presents interviews with cancer patients.