Types of Clinical Trials
There are several types of clinical trials for testing cancer therapies and treatment strategies.
The majority of cancer clinical trials are known as treatment trials.
These clinical trials test new treatments, or different uses for a commonly used treatment protocol (commonly called “standard of care”). Treatment clinical trials can be used to test drugs, vaccines, new approaches to surgery or radiation, or different combinations of treatments.
Many of the newest or most advanced treatments, including genomically targeted treatments, can only be accessed through treatment trials. Therefore, it is important that patients have their tumors tested to determine if there are mutations for which targeted treatments are being tested. By identifying specific gene mutations in the tumor, we may identify additional treatment options.
Treatment trials are designed to determine dosing safety, whether or not patients live longer on the treatment, whether the treatment shrinks tumors, what the side effects may be, whether or not the cancer will return, and other outcomes that are relevant in a particular type of cancer.
Other Trial Types
Other clinical trial types include prevention trials, screening trials, and quality of life trials. Prevention trials are studies involving cancer-free, healthy patients and are focused on reducing the risk of cancer. Screening trials aim to improve methods of early cancer detection. Quality of life trials, also known as palliative trials, aim to improve the quality of life for cancer patients, especially those who have side effects from treatment.