As medical and scientific teams continue to learn more about how colorectal cancer begins and spreads, they test new and improved treatments by conducting clinical trials. Once thought of as a last resort, clinical trials are increasingly becoming considered as a first treatment option. Advances made as a result of these trials bring more hope to people whose lives are affected by colorectal cancer.
Clinical trials evaluate new methods for improving different areas of cancer care. Many research studies are underway for all stages of colorectal cancer. Some are identifying drug therapies to treat genetic mutations. Others are focused on better screening methods for prevention and early detection. Still others are evaluating the benefits of certain drug therapies used alone, in combination with other therapies or in a different order.
Receiving your cancer treatment through a clinical trial may offer these benefits:
- Access to state-of-the-art cancer treatment that is not available outside a clinical trial.
- A high level of care from being monitored by the clinical trial’s medical team in addition to your regular oncologist and health care team.
- A role in advancing cancer research by helping to improve treatment options for future patients.
Clinical trials are carefully planned, structured and highly regulated for the safety of all participants. However, as with any cancer treatment, a clinical trial presents potential risks and side effects. It may require more tests and/or medical appointments than you would ordinarily have scheduled. Ask in advance to make sure you’ll be able to rearrange your schedule of work, school, family commitments and other obligations to accommodate the appointments required to meet the trial’s protocol.
As you and your doctor discuss the potential treatment option of a clinical trial, keep in mind that many trials take place at the same time in a variety of locations, making it difficult for your doctor to know about all of them. It takes research, and that’s where you come in. While your health care team is exploring potential trials, you can look for them, too. Start by educating yourself about clinical trials using trusted resources such as this guide. Then, from the comfort of your home, look for clinical trials you may qualify for using online clinical trial search sites.
Navigating some search sites can be confusing. To help prepare you, we’ve created mock screens below to show you what you may see as you look for a trial that may apply to you.
When you find a clinical trial that you may qualify for, print out the information and talk with your doctor about it.