What Is a Clinical Trial?
Clinical trials are research that prospectively assign human subjects to intervention and concurrent comparison or control groups to study the cause-and-effect relationship between a medical intervention and a health outcome.
They research studies that involve people and explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective. These studies also may show which medical approaches work best for certain illnesses or groups of individuals.
Ovarian cancer clinical trials are designed to test new ways to:
• Treat ovarian cancer
• Detect ovarian cancer early
• Prevent ovarian cancer
• Manage symptoms of illness or side effects from its treatment
What Are The Types Of Clinical Trials?
Ovarian cancer clinical trials are broken down into 4 separate categories. They are as follows:
Prevention — These trials test new interventions that may lower the risk of developing cancer. Most cancer prevention trials involve healthy people who have not had cancer; however, they often only include people who have a higher than average risk of developing a specific type of cancer. Some cancer prevention trials involve people who have had cancer in the past; these trials test interventions that may help prevent the return (recurrence) of the original cancer or reduce the chance of developing a new type of cancer, this is an important distinction for ovarian cancer as it has a significantly high rate of recurrence.
Screening — Used to find new ways to detect cancer, especially in the early stages. The early detection methods used are the ultrasound and CA125.
Diagnostic — New PET imaging modalities for detection of ovarian cancer sites.
Quality of Life & Supportive Care — Explore ways to improve quality of life for cancer patients.
Treatment — These trials test the effectiveness of new treatments or new ways of using current treatments in people who have cancer. The treatments tested may include new drugs or new combinations of currently used drugs, new surgery or radiation therapy techniques, and vaccines or other treatments that stimulate a person’s immune system to fight cancer. Combinations of different treatment types may also be tested in these trials.
Who Can Participate in a Clinical Trial?
Clinical trials have standards, also known as eligibility requirements, that determine who can or cannot participate.
The factors that allow someone to participate in a clinical study are called inclusion criteria, and the factors that disqualify someone from participating are called exclusion criteria. They are based on characteristics such as age, the stage of ovarian cancer, previous treatment history, and other medical conditions.
In order to be included in a clinical trial, a person must volunteer to participate, understand what is being tested, and acknowledge the potential risks and benefits associated with participation in the study.
Why Should You Consider a Clinical Trial?
Clinical trials are fundamental to the discovery of new and better therapies in the fight against ovarian cancer. Through participation in a clinical trial, patients have the chance to receive the latest and most innovative investigational medicines that experts think might improve their cancer. Clinical trials are important options for all patients at all stages of their disease and treatment.
Pharmaceutical companies use molecular information about ovarian cancer to develop new drugs that target particular cellular pathways that are expected to be the drivers of cancer growth or survival. For some patients, these investigational agents may be the best available treatment option, particularly if the drugs being tested are matched to the molecular profile of their tumor. Since eligibility requirements limit participation based on tumor stage, time since diagnosis or recurrence, and treatment history, it’s important to look for clinical trials as soon as a patient has a recurrence and to be aware of these opportunities as soon as she is diagnosed with cancer.
The more women that take part in clinical trials for ovarian cancer, the faster we can find better treatments for all.
Clinical Trials: What You Need To Know
The National Cancer Institute created a series of educational videos for individuals considering participating in clinical trials. This three-part series explains and answers common questions about the types of clinical trials, how they are conducted, and factors to think about when deciding whether or not to participate in a trial. The video also features actual patients who share their reasons and decisions about participating in cancer clinical trials.
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