The continuing search for effective cancer treatments begins with research. A clinical trial is a study conducted with cancer patients in order to evaluate a new treatment.
Before any new treatment is tried with patients, it is studied in laboratories. This will point out new methods that are most likely to succeed, and helps to show their safety and effectiveness. The best results of research are then tested in studies with patients, ideally leading to new and better treatments that may help many people.
All clinical trials are conducted in the same places that provide standard treatment for cancer. With any new treatment there may be known or unknown risks, and importantly, potential benefits.
Remember: You are never obligated to enter a clinical trial. If it is an option, you may wish to enroll and you may choose to leave at any time. Learn as much as you can about the trial, before you make up your mind.
Are You Eligible for a Clinical Trial?
Each study is very specific, enrolling patients with certain types and stages of cancer. Overall health status is important also. Therefore if you are thinking about pursuing clinical trials it would be helpful for you to talk with your doctor first.
What Trials are Available for Your Type of Ovarian Cancer?
There are many ways to learn about clinical trials.
- Talk with your doctor. You can also ask for a second opinion because it is almost impossible for all doctors to know what options are available at all treatment centres.
- The Internet. There are very good web sites that can direct you when seeking out clinical trials. Web sites should tell you about the clinical trial, where it is being conducted and a contact name. The best site for Canadian information is The Society Of Gynecological Oncologists which has trials listed by cancer centre: http://www.g-o-c.org
- Contact the Cancer Centre nearest to you and ask to speak with the staff working on ovarian cancer clinical trials.
How is a Clinical Trial Conducted?
The doctors who are involved with a clinical trial follow a "protocol". This is a plan that tells the doctor exactly what to do. This protects the patient as well as answers research questions.
Some clinical trials test one new treatment with one group of patients. Other trials compare two or more treatments. One of the groups may receive standard treatment so the new treatment can be directly compared to it. In this case, you may be "randomized" to receive either the standard treatment or the new treatment. In order to avoid adding any bias to the study, neither your doctor nor you would be able to choose which treatment you receive.
If you are on a new treatment that is not working, your doctor may decide to remove you and review other options.
Important Questions to Ask about a Clinical Trial
- What is the purpose of the study?
- What does the study involve? What kinds of treatments and/or tests?
- What are my options if I choose not to enter a clinical trial?
- How could the study affect my daily life?
- What side effects can I expect from the study?
- How long will the study last?
The Canadian Cancer Society provides a booklet with information for the patient who is considering becoming part of a clinical trial.
For comprehensive information about clinical trials in Canada see Cancer Trials in Canada:
How do I know a drug is safe?
Canada's pharmaceutical industry is heavily regulated. Health Canada conducts extensive reviews to approve new drugs to make sure they are safe and effective.
The following third-party links provide useful information about clinical trials, as well as any that may be currently available.
Cancer view Canada (Canadian Partnership against Cancer)
Canadian Cancer Society
The Society of Gynecologic Oncology
U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH)
NCIC Clinical Trials Group