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Should I Take Part in a Cancer Prevention Trial?
    Updated: 07/27/2004
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Understanding Cancer Prevention Trials

Should I Take Part in a Clinical Trial?

People decide to be part of a cancer prevention clinical trial for many reasons. For example:

Some people feel good about contributing to medical knowledge. If the study agent turns out to be effective against cancer, it may help others. For example, prevention trials showed that aspirin helps prevent colon cancer in addition to heart disease, and now many people take aspirin daily on their doctor's advice.

Some people who have a higher cancer risk participate in a cancer prevention trial because they want to take a more active role in their health care. Study participants are carefully monitored for health problems related to the disease under study.

You need to weigh the possible benefits and possible risks for yourself. The list in the next section may help you do that. You also may find it useful to talk with family members or friends, your health care providers, and anyone you know who has been in a clinical trial.

What are the pros and cons?

Possible Benefits:

  • You will have a chance to help future generations by allowing researchers to learn more about cancer prevention.
  • If the approach being studied is found to be helpful, you may be among the first to benefit.
  • In a cancer prevention clinical trial your health, as it relates to the cancer under study, is carefully monitored .

Possible Drawbacks:

  • New approaches may have side effects or risks unknown to the doctors.
  • The new approach might make you feel worse than the placebo or other intervention to which it is being compared.
  • Even if a new approach has benefits, it may not work for you.
  • Health insurance and managed care providers don't always cover all costs in a clinical trial. (To find out what costs are likely to be covered for you, talk to a member of the research team or a social worker.) For more information about insurance coverage, see the Insurance Coverage Resource Guide section of this site.

Questions to ask about prevention trials

Finding answers, and making choices, may be hard for people who are at risk for cancer - and for those who care about them. It's important for you to discuss your concerns and your choices with your doctor and with the staff of any clinical study that you're thinking of joining.

Ask questions about any issues that concern you. You need to understand your choices.

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