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Five reasons to consider participating in a clinical trial for cancer treatment

Clinical trials can benefit you, no matter what stage of cancer you have. Here, Tara Lin, M.D., professor of hematologic malignancies and cellular therapeutics at KU Medical Center and medical director of the Clinical Trials Office at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, explains five reasons to consider participating in the testing of a novel cancer treatment.

Tara Lin standing in a clinical hallway, with her arms crossed, smiling
Tara L. Lin, M.D., is a professor in the Division of Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapeutics in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. She also is the medical director of the Clinical Trials Office at The University of Kansas Cancer Center.

Advances in cancer medicine come through rigorous testing in clinical trials. A clinical trial is how we develop new treatments — by testing a new drug alone, by testing a new drug in combination with already approved medications or by testing a new combination of older medicines used together. There are also clinical trials to learn about new techniques in surgery or radiation therapy for people with cancer. 

By the time the treatment reaches an individual, scientists have already spent years developing it. Nearly all tried-and-true cancer drugs available to you today exist because past patients participated in clinical trials.

Despite the advantages of joining a clinical trial, few people with cancer actually participate. With all the advances in our understanding of cancer biology and new options for treatment, today is an ideal time to consider joining a clinical trial.

Below are five reasons you should consider participating in a clinical trial:

1. You gain access to innovative treatments before they become widely available.

As a participant in a clinical trial, you may receive the latest leading-edge cancer treatment.

2. You receive frequent, attentive medical care. 

Some people are nervous that once in a clinical trial, their standard of care will stop. Placebos are rarely used for active cancer treatment. Most studies compare the standard treatment with a new investigational drug or treatment. As a clinical trial participant, in addition to the care you would receive as part of your standard treatment, you will also have visits to the clinic with the trial team. Team members will track your side effects as well as the effectiveness of the new therapy. In essence, you are receiving “Standard of Care Plus.”

3. You play an active role in important treatment decisions that can affect your care. 

If you qualify for a clinical trial, you are the advocate in your care and can choose to take part. Participating in a clinical trial may make you feel as if you have more control over your health, which can lead to a more positive outlook on life.

4. Clinical trials aren’t just for people who have exhausted all treatment options. 

There are more clinical trials testing new medications in combination with the current standard of care for people with newly diagnosed cancers, too. Clinical trials can be an important part of your cancer care when you are first diagnosed or if the cancer comes back.

5. You are contributing to improving the health of others. 

Clinical trials are the only way researchers can continue to develop new cancer treatments. By participating in a clinical trial, you are helping to advance cancer research and offering hope and opportunity for future patients.

If you’re interested in participating in a clinical trial, ask your doctor about your options.

To search KU Cancer Center clinical trials that may be a good fit for you, download the KUCC Clinical Trial Finder app. The app is currently available for iOS and Android users. To download, go to the App Store or Google Play Store and search for “KUCC Clinical Trial Finder.” From there, download the app to your personal device.

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