The Algoma District Cancer Program actively participates in clinical cancer research. It is through clinical research that improvements or advances are made in the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer, as well as improvements in controlling the symptoms of cancer and cancer treatment.
What Are Clinical Trials?
Clinical trials are the way in which new tests, drugs, techniques or combinations of treatments are developed to become the standard of care over time. Physicians and researchers continue to search for better options for both patients with cancer and people who are at risk for developing cancer.
For some cancers with few treatment options, clinical research hopes to identify therapies that will surpass current treatment options. Successes could include increased effectiveness, fewer side effects or more patients responding to a particular treatment.
Who can participate in a Clinical Trial?
You have the opportunity to participate in clinical research. Your oncologist will review all treatment options available to you based on your own circumstances, one of which could include participation in a clinical trial. To determine if you are able to participate, your oncologist will consider the type and stage of your cancer, your age, your general condition and the trials that are available.
How is a Clinical Trial different from standard treatment?
As with any type of medical treatment, there are risks that must be considered, whether you are participating in a clinical trial or not.
Because standard treatment has been studied already, most of the known benefits and risks can be presented to you. With a clinical trial, you may not know all of the potential benefits or risks at the time of enrolling. The aim of the study is to answer some of these questions.
As the study progresses, information may become available related to potential benefits or risks. This may require modifications to the study design. For this reason, you will be very closely monitored by your oncologist and your research nurse. Clinical Trials nurses meet regularly with patients.
Where do Clinical Trial studies come from?
Some of our patients have participated in some of the largest studies ever conducted, which have shaped how we manage certain types of cancer.
A study may be conducted in multiple centres across Canada, North America, or all over the world. Any concerns about how patients are tolerating or managing their treatment are communicated virtually in real-time. Any concerns with any study are known fairly quickly. This holds for not only complications but for rapidly detectable successes as well.
I have been given the option to participate in a Clinical Trial. What questions should I ask about my treatment?
Your oncologist will make the best decision in determining whether or not you are able to participate in a clinical trial, but the choice is still entirely yours.
Some questions you may want to ask before deciding are:
- What is the purpose of the study?
- What kind of tests or treatments will be performed?
- What other treatments are available and what are the advantages or drawbacks of each?
- What side effects might I experience?
- How long will the study last?
- How much time will be required on my part?
- If I have any further questions, who should I contact?
- Will I have to be hospitalized? If so, how often and for how long?