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Clinical Trials

For easy to view and print information on clinical trials, please see our latest brochure, Understanding Lung Cancer Clinical Trials: A Guide for the Patient.

Even approved treatments do not work for all people. Clinical trials offer patients more options. They represent an opportunity to receive up-to-date treatment and contribute to medical science and humanity at the same time. The good that can come from a clinical trial generally outweighs the risks. You may be participating in a trial that results in the next big lung cancer treatment breakthrough.

Before starting treatment, ask your doctor about clinical trials. Some people believe that clinical trials should only be considered after all other options have been tried. In reality, they should be considered every time a treatment decision is made.  

What is a Clinical Trial?

Clinical trials are research studies that allow patients to try new treatments or combinations of treatments. All currently approved medical treatments, from aspirins to targeted therapies, became approved through the clinical trial process. Clinical trials help researchers find the safest and most effective treatments.  They are necessary for new lung cancer treatments to be found and for advancements in the treatment of the disease to occur.

Clinical trials follow a protocol, which means that all of the steps of the study are clear and are followed in the same way. There are requirements that each participant must meet, called eligibility criteria. Having criteria makes sure that nothing interferes with getting reliable information from the study.

New chemotherapy drugs, surgical and radiation techniques, vaccines, and biological therapies are a few of the treatments currently being studied in clinical trials as possible treatments for all types of lung cancer. Studies often involve adding a new treatment in combination with drugs that have already been approved.

Questions to Ask When Considering a Clinical Trial

Before you join a clinical trial, talk with your healthcare providers about the specifics of the trial.

  • What is the goal of the trial?
  • What side effects might I experience? Are these worse than those I might experience with standard treatment? How will they be managed?
  • Who is sponsoring the trial?
  • What should I expect if I am in the trial? What should I expect if I am not in the trial?
  • What are the possible benefits to me if I go into the trial?
  • Will I have to pay for the treatment? Will any of the treatment be free?
  • Will joining a trial keep me from being treated with other therapies, either now or later?
  • Who can I call if there are problems while I am in the trial? What phone number should I call in the evening or on weekends?