Clinical trials are research studies that involve people. Each study
tries to answer scientific questions and to find better ways to prevent,
diagnose or treat cancer. See
What Is a Clinical Trial?
In cancer research a clinical trial is designed to show how a particular
anticancer strategy -- for instance, a promising drug, a gene therapy
treatment, a new diagnostic test, or a possible way to prevent cancer --
affects the people who receive it. See
If You Want To Find Ways To Prevent Cancer...Learn About Prevention Clinical Trials.
A clinical trial is one of the stages of a long and careful cancer research
process. Getting promising results from testing a new drug on mice, for
example, is a preliminary step to human research studies. Treatments that work
well in mice do not always work well in people. See
How Is a Clinical Trial Planned and Carried Out?
There are two types of prevention clinical trials that study ways of reducing
the risk of getting cancer:
Action studies (doing something) - These focus on finding out whether
actions people take, such as exercising more or quitting smoking, can prevent
Agent studies (taking something)
- These studies examine whether taking certain medicines, vitamins or food
supplements (or a combination) can prevent cancer.
In the agent prevention trials, people take medicines, vitamins, minerals or
other supplements that researchers believe may lower the risk of a
certain type of cancer. Health professionals who conduct these studies want to
How can people learn about the possible pros and cons of participating in
a prevention trial? Through a process called informed consent you will
learn what agent(s) the study will test and how, and possible benefits and
risks, before deciding whether or not to participate.
Who's eligible to participate in a prevention clinical trial? Each study
has its own guidelines for who can participate. Generally, participants are
alike in key ways - such as age, gender, whether or not participants are at
increased risk of a certain type of cancer, and other factors.
What do prevention trials test? Many prevention trials are designed to compare a
promising new agent with a standard one or to no agent. In these
studies patients are randomly assigned to one group or another.
Do some people receive a placebo in prevention clinical trials? People
assigned to a group receiving "no agent" take a look-alike pill that
contains no active ingredient, called a placebo. Remember that participants in
prevention clinical trials do not have cancer. In treatment clinical trials --
designed to compare a new treatment for a certain type of cancer with a
standard treatment -- placebos are very rarely used.
Where do clinical trials take place? They are underway all over the
country - in cancer centers, other major medical centers, community hospitals
and clinics, physicians' offices and veterans' and military hospitals in
numerous cities and towns around the United States.
Who pays for the participant costs on prevention clinical trials? The
coverage of costs varies, and so it is important to ask a doctor, nurse or a
staff member from the study to help you determine in advance what costs must be
covered by you or your health plan. See
Clinical Trials and Insurance Coverage: A Resource Guide.