Information About Clinical Trials

Clinical Trials –Newest therapies in the search for cures

Every cancer therapy used today began as a clinical trial. That is why cancer survival rates for all patients – adults and children – have improved in recent years. However, medical research still has a long way to go to find cures and prevent cancers from developing. Our doctors and research team constantly are evaluating the latest research treatments to bring to our patients.

What is a cancer clinical trial?

Clinical trials are carefully supervised human tests of new drugs, new combination of drugs or new procedures. Some trials seek cancer cures or relief from treatment side effects; others try to prevent disease in patients with high-risk family histories. Research therapies take place in four phases: After laboratory and animal testing, Phase I determines human safety. Nearly all Phase I studies are conducted at major cancer centers and involve only a few patients. Phase II compares doses to find what is most effective. Phase III tests the new therapy against the standard approved treatment. Phase IV answers additional questions and examines long-term effects.

Why join a trial?

The first question any cancer patient should ask is, “Am I eligible for a clinical trial?”. Education is the key to encouraging patient participation. The more patients understand how valuable clinical research may be in giving them access to the newest treatments and saving future lives, the more they will want to participate. Another important benefit is the exceptionally high level of patient monitoring by doctors and nurses.

Protections for Patients

Oversight is very strict. The federal government requires each trial be approved at two levels. Institutional Review Boards are comprised of physicians, nurses, patients and citizens who ask the questions patients and their doctors might ask. National agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration or the National Cancer Institute through its national cooperative groups not only approve studies for safety and science, they also conduct periodic audits to assure the studies are properly administered at each site.

The law requires a patient to prove he or she understands the benefits and risks of participating by signing an informed consent. Participation in a clinical trial is completely voluntary. A patient can withdraw at any time.

Who pays?

The research organization or pharmaceutical company provides new or experimental drugs at no cost to the patient. In Georgia, most insurers cover routine medical costs for cancer patients on clinical trials. This means health insurance usually pays for weekly blood tests, standard treatments, scans, clinic visits, and hospitalization when necessary. Deductibles and co-pays still apply.

How do I find a trial that’s right for me?

UCBC offers eligible patients the latest clinical trials for many types of cancer from early to late stage of diagnosis. We have a number of the same clinical trials available at major cancer centers such as MD Anderson in Houston and Dana-Farber in Boston. Your physician already may have recommended an appropriate trial for your disease and stage. Our doctors and nurses continue to work with scientists and renowned physicians across the country, international pharmaceutical companies and research universities to keep UCBC’s clinical trials relationships at the forefront of the latest cancer therapies.