Clinical trials are vital if we expect to continue to see improvements in the treatments and medications that are available. Unfortunately, there are some historical abuses in clinical trials so many people do approach them with a level of distrust. In contemporary times the clinical trial system has many safeguards that did not exist even 10 years ago. In addition to this concern, there remains many Myths which need to be clarified and set right.
MYTH: People who are in the control or placebo group will not receive treatment; they will only receive a sugar pill.
FACT: All participants in a clinical trial will receive treatment. People in the control or placebo group will receive the current standard of care treatment or the standard of care and a sugar pill. They will never receive just a sugar pill. People in the investigation treatment group will either receive the standard of care plus the investigational treatment or just the investigational treatment.
MYTH: Clinical trials are only for people who have no other treatment options available to them. In other words, clinical trials are a last resort.
FACT: Clinical trials are for individuals at all stages of their disease or cancer. Initially, many trials use patients in the later disease stages, but, if they are successful, they often are then tried in earlier disease stages. In reality, clinical trials should be considered an alternative way to receive treatment, no matter the disease stage.
MYTH: By signing on to a clinical trial you are obligated to continue, even when you wish to stop participating.
FACT: You are always free to leave a trial and you are not obligated to ever explain your reasons for leaving. You may change your mind and leave at any time you desire.
MYTH: Clinical trials are dangerous and your safety is not important to the researchers.
FACT: All clinical trials must have multiple built in safety guards to guarantee the participants rights and safety is always protected. These safety guards include an Institutional Review Board, a Data and Safety Review Board that is actively monitoring the overall trial and any specific negative reports and the on-going informed consent process.
MYTH: Clinical trials only happen at the large institutions and hospitals and are open to individuals living near these institution.
FACT: Today, there are many trials that are run out of smaller cancer centers, hospitals and doctor’s offices. However, larger institutions often have more trials available.
MYTH: If my doctor is not at the cancer center or hospital at which a trial is being run I am unable to participate in the trial.
FACT: You may participate in any trial for which you qualify, no matter where the trial is being run. The common exception to this is if you live to far away from the trial site and/or are unable to find transportation to the site on a reliable basis you will probably not be permitted to participate in the trial.
THE MOST IMPORTANT FACT: If you participate in a trial you are a HERO to us all. Thank you, one and all, for participating in a clinical trial.