Did you know every cancer treatment available today started in a clinical trial? Clinical trials are an integral part of advancing the standard of care for those facing cancer.
If you’re thinking about participating in a clinical trial, it is important to find the best trial option for your type of cancer and to understand the process you can expect in your journey. Below are a handful of common questions to ask your healthcare team to ensure you understand your trial options.
- What is the purpose of the trial?
There are many types of clinical trials but the goal of research is the same – to improve the treatment of cancer. While many clinical trials involve new drugs, others look at existing approved therapies for the treatment of different types of cancer or combinations of therapies. It is important for you to ask your physician about the trial design and purpose of the trial that you are considering.
- What kind of treatments and tests are involved in the trial?
As mentioned above, the type and number of treatments differ for each clinical trial. During the trial, your lab technician may need to draw blood or perform an electrocardiogram (ECG) to ensure that you are reacting well to the treatment. Ask your clinical care team about the treatments and tests you can expect throughout the trial process.
- What are the possible risks or side effects of this treatment?
Side effects vary by trial. You will be closely monitored throughout the clinical trial to ensure that any potential side effects are addressed. It is important to understand all the potential risks or side effects of the treatment before the trial begins.
- How will the trial affect my daily life? How often will I need to come to the clinic?
Asking this question will help you be prepared for your upcoming treatment and plan your personal schedule while on the trial. After the treatment is over, trial participants may be followed up with every few months for updates on their condition to help determine the long-term effectiveness and safety of the therapy.
- Do I have to pay for any of the treatments? What costs will my health insurance cover?
Talking to your healthcare team, as well as facility staff and your insurance company will be important in answering these questions. Your insurance plan should cover the standard of care or routine care associated with the trial. Research-specific tests and procedures will be paid by the sponsor of the trial.
- If I benefit from this therapy, will I be allowed to continue receiving it after the trial ends?
The design of most clinical trials allows patients to continue using the therapy as long as they are benefitting. Clarifying this question with your care team is important.
- Who will oversee my care while I am participating in the trial?
Your care team will consist of a physician overseeing your participation as well as a team of nurses assisting with your treatment and day-to-day care.
See below for a diagram of the clinical trial care team at Sarah Cannon.
You can discuss any questions you have with members of the clinical research team and your regular healthcare provider at any time. Click here for a list of clinical trials at Sarah Cannon.