Learn About Clinical Trials
Clinical trials are research studies that involve people. Any time you or a loved one need treatment for cancer, clinical trials are an option to think about. Learning all you can about clinical trials can help you talk with your doctor and decide what is right for you.
We want to provide you with up-to-date, credible information about clinical trials. Information on this page is from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
What are Clinical Trials?
Clinical trials are research studies that involve people. Through clinical trials, doctors find new ways to improve treatments and the quality of life for people with disease.
Researchers design cancer clinical trials to test new ways to:
- Treat cancer
- Find and diagnose cancer
- Prevent cancer
- Manage symptoms of cancer and side effects from its treatment
Clinical trials are the final step in a long process that begins with research in a lab. Before any new treatment is used with people in clinical trials, researchers work for many years to understand its effects on cancer cells in the lab and in animals. They also try to figure out the side effects it may cause.
Every trial has a doctor in charge, who is called the principal investigator. The principal investigator prepares a plan for the trial, called a protocol. The protocol explains what will be done during the trial. It also contains information that helps the doctor decide if this treatment is right for you. Such as:
- The reason for doing the trial
- Who can join the trial (called “eligibility criteria”)
- How many people are needed for the trial
- Any drugs or other treatments that will be given, how they will be given, the dose, and how often
- What medical tests will be done and how often
- What types of information will be collected about the people taking part
Any time you or a loved one needs treatment for cancer, clinical trials are an option to think about. Trials are available for all stages of cancer. It is a myth that they are only for people who have advanced cancer that is not responding to treatment.
To look for NCI-supported trials, click here.
Why are Clinical Trials Important?
Today, people are living longer lives from successful cancer treatments that are the results of past clinical trials. Through clinical trials, doctors determine whether new treatments are safe and effective and work better than current treatments. Clinical trials also help us find new ways to prevent and detect cancer, and they help us improve the quality of life for people during and after treatment. When you take part in a clinical trial, you add to our knowledge about cancer and help improve cancer care for future patients. Clinical trials are the key to making progress against cancer.
Why should I join a clinical trial?
Treatments might be new drugs or new combinations of drugs, new surgical procedures or devices, or new ways to use existing treatments.
The goal of clinical trials is to determine if a new test or treatment works and is safe. Clinical trials can also look at other aspects of care, such as improving the quality of life for people with chronic illnesses.
People participate in clinical trials for a variety of reasons. Healthy volunteers say they participate to help others and to contribute to moving science forward. Participants with an illness or disease also participate to help others, but also to possibly receive the newest treatment and to have the additional care and attention from the clinical trial staff.
Clinical trials offer hope for many people and an opportunity to help researchers find better treatments for others in the future.
NCI has trained trial counselors who can help you find potential trials to discuss with your oncologist. There is no charge to you.
Talking with your oncologist about trials
Dr Martin Voss, medical oncologist from MSKCC gives a detailed discussion of enrolling in a clinical trial for kidney cancer patients.
How do I find a Kidney Cancer Trial?
Watch this quick overview of how to search for an NCI-supported clinical trial or call 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) to speak with an NCI cancer information specialist in English or Spanish.
After a discussion with your oncologist about trials, you may want to explore options yourself.
NCI offers help for patients new to clinical trials useful steps to find a trial.
How can I find kidney cancer trials close to me?
Click the link to search on clinicaltrials.gov which has the broadest information. Fill in a few basics like “kidney cancer” and your location. You can add a keyword like “immunotherapy” or “Papillary” to filter your results and shorten the list.
Kidney Cancer Research Consortium
The Kidney Cancer Research Consortium is comprised of seven partner institutions at top academic research institutions across the country.
Visit their website for more information about clinical trials.
Paying for Clinical Trials
Many patients ask about the costs of trial participation. A mix of insurance plus trial sponsor support can minimize your out-of-pocket costs.
Learn more by watching this short video from Cancer.gov below.
Reliable Resources for Cancer Information
NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE
INTERNATIONAL KIDNEY CANCER COALITION
CANCER AND CAREERS
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