A patient participating in a clinical trial typically receives a promising new treatment that needs to be investigated in order to receive government approval. For many patients facing life-threatening diseases who have exhausted the available treatment options, clinical trials offer new hope for survival.
The range of trials available today is extremely broad. Although many trials focus on patients with more advanced disease, a significant number of studies fall into areas such as screening techniques, early disease treatment and alleviation of symptoms. All clinical trials have specific guidelines for participant eligibility. These guidelines are based on such factors as type of disease, age, medical history and current medical condition. Before entering into a clinical trial, you must meet the criteria for the study.
The benefits and risks
Participating in a clinical trial can be a way of helping yourself and others. Patients who participate in a clinical trial often feel they are taking a more active role in their care. In a clinical trial, participants have access to new drugs and treatments before they are widely available. Because controlling and recording all factors is critical to the trial's success, participants get excellent attention and are closely monitored and cared for. In addition, the data gathered from the trial can go on to benefit others.
There are risks to participating in clinical trials that must be weighed against the potential benefits. There may be some unpleasant or serious side effects from treatment. The trial may take a lot of time with repeat hospital visits, additional treatments and involved dosages. And the treatment may not end up being effective for the person participating.