10 Things You Need to Know About Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are an essential part of developing new cancer treatments, but they’re something few people really understand. While the name can conjure up scary thoughts of being experimented on, the reality is much different — and safer — than most people realize. If you’re undergoing cancer treatment, a clinical trial may even give you access to otherwise inaccessible drugs and treatments. Here are 10 little-known facts about clinical trials.

10. The New Drug Has Already Undergone Testing

The development process for new drugs and treatments is highly regulated, and it begins long before the point of clinical trials. The pre-clinical phase begins with cell testing, which utilizes isolated cancer cells to help the researchers understand how the drug works and see what kind of effect it has. If that shows promise, researchers generally move onto animal testing, which helps them decide if the drug is safe enough for human use. They must then submit a detailed investigational new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration, which will scrutinize the process before giving approval for human trials. The entire process generally takes about six years to reach the clinical trial phase. The average time it takes from the beginning of a clinical trial to the drug’s approval is eight years.

Photo: Flickr/NIAID

9. You Can Always Say “No”

Clinical trials sound like a big commitment at first, but the important thing to remember is that they’re completely voluntary. You can stop the treatment and leave the trial at any stage, and you never have to worry about any penalties or judgment. Whether you want to leave due to major side effects or because you simply don’t feel like participating anymore, you’re always free to leave.

Photo: Flickr/Vic

8. Your Information Stays Confidential

Privacy is a serious concern for health-care providers, and researchers running clinical trials are no different. While data about the effects of the treatment has to be shared, it is done so anonymously. Your name and any other unnecessary or identifying information is removed from any forms or data that is shared outside of the clinic.

Photo: Pixabay

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