Is a Clinical Trial Right for Me?
Article contributed by Mayo Staff Brianne Hamann, M.H.A., R.N., CCRN
Many patients are offered participation in a clinical trial as an option for treatment either at the time of cancer diagnosis, or after one or more lines of treatment. With so much information to consider, what should you be aware of before enrolling?
Clinical Trials offer treatments which consist of entirely new drugs, a mixture of new and standard of care drugs, new procedures, or combinations of both. While some trials involve promising new treatments designed to combat your cancer directly, others are developed to help researchers learn how treatments may benefit future patients. These are different than standard of care treatments which are accepted by oncology providers as the best practice for fighting a particular type of cancer.
If your provider believes a clinical trial may be right for you, they must first obtain your informed consent. This document explains your rights as a participant, potential risks and benefits, and trial logistics.
It is important to ask –
- What testing will be required? Many trials require extra labs, scans, or other diagnostic tests.
- Where will you receive treatment? Most trials require you to receive medications and testing at Mayo Clinic.
- What appointment schedule will you be following? Many trials require that you receive your treatment on specific days of the week.
- What treatments costs will be covered by the trial? Some trials will cover the cost of all treatment and testing, while others do not.
Participation in clinical trial requires that you meet specific eligibility criteria determined by the trial sponsor. Sponsors can be Mayo Clinic researchers, medical industries such as pharmaceutical companies, or government funded. After consent, you will be screened to determine if you meet these criteria.
During treatment you will be monitored closely by a team of Mayo Clinic staff. Your provider will assess you for improvement in your cancer as well as any side effects. Your nurse will educate you on how to manage your cancer symptoms and side effects of treatment. The clinical research coordinator will perform focused assessments in accordance with the trial protocol, keep you apprised of the schedule, and communicate with the trial sponsor.
If you do decide a trial is right for you, it is important to know that you may withdrawal at any point without any impact on the quality of your care. You will want to discuss alternative treatment options with your provider at that time. Learn more about clinical trials at Mayo Clinic.