6 Myths About Clinical Trials Debunked
Clinical trials are an option for many cancer patients. But unfortunately, the vast majority of cancer patients–85 percent, according to one survey–are unaware of this fact, which means trials don’t fill and the pace of research slows. And yet three quarters of the patients surveyed said they would have considered enrolling in a clinical trial if they had known it was an option.
Joining a cancer clinical trial can feel like a big leap; it’s natural to have many questions about the process.
We’ve come across some common myths and want to make sure you get the facts:
- Myth: Cancer patients are “guinea pigs” in clinical trials.
Fact: When a drug goes to trial, it has already been extensively tested in years of lab research. Doctors have a good idea of how people will respond to the drug, and they monitor and evaluate its effectiveness with increased vigilance to make sure every patient receives the treatment he or she deserves.
- Myth: You might receive a non-treatment placebo—a sugar pill—if you join a trial.
Fact: Not all clinical trials use placebos. But even in studies that do use them, patients are never treated by placebo alone, but by the best available standard of care PLUS a placebo. Any clinical trial that does use placebos must disclose this fact to patients upfront.
- Myth: Clinical trials are a last-resort option.
Fact: Clinical trials are open to everyone who qualifies to join, and they give patients access to precision medicine, targeted therapies, and the most up-to-date treatments currently available. No matter your stage of cancer, a clinical trial could offer the best option for your care.
- Myth: Your health insurance will refuse to cover any cost for a clinical trial, so it will be more expensive than standard care.
Fact: There are two main expenses in a clinical trial: the cost of your normal care (which you would receive without being in the study), and the cost of research care (which you receive as part of the trial). Your health insurance may cover the cost of your normal cancer treatments, and it may even cover some of the research costs. However, most of what is not covered for the research will be paid by the company sponsoring the clinical trial. These trials give you access to targeted therapies for a potentially favorable cost.
- Myth: Once you join a study you can’t leave.
Fact: You can leave a clinical trial at any time for any reason. This is your care, and the decision is always yours to make. However, the doctors running the trial may want to continue monitoring you to understand and assess the long-term effects of the treatment.
- Myth: Clinical trials are unsafe.
Fact: The patients in a trial are monitored carefully, and all aspects of the trial are reviewed by a board of experienced researchers. Any patient who participates in a trial will be treated with the same level of respect as other patients.
Knowing all your treatment options is so important to your care. Don’t let misinformation make your decision on whether or not to participate in a clinical trial. Get all the facts and use this information to make the best decision for treating your cancer. For more information about clinical trials, stay tuned to the Cure Forward blog and take a look at our Clinical Trials Page.
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