Understanding the Genomics and Genetics of Cancer

Clinical Trials

Some clinical trials help researchers better understand how genes and biomarkers influence cancer. By learning more about the roles mutations play in causing and affecting certain types of cancer, scientists are able to expand the prevention, diagnosis and treatment options for patients whose cancers have these biomarkers. You may be eligible to participate in a clinical trial based on your risk factors or the results of your biomarker testing.

Some studies called basket trials enroll people based on the biomarkers in their cancer, instead of where in the body the cancer started growing. Others use biomarker tests to match people to treatments based on the genetic changes in their cancers.

Although many advances are being made, it is important to realize that some of the cancer treatments based on these findings may only work for people whose cancers have certain biomarkers. Additionally, some biomarkers may be identified that do not yet have treatments.

The Basics of Clinical Trials

Most cancer treatments used today were once therapies or procedures that were developed, tested and evaluated through the clinical trials process to gain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The advances made in these clinical trials give patients more options for preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer.

Many types of cancer clinical trials exist, not just those that study genes and biomarkers. Some evaluate new methods for improving different areas of cancer care, including disease prevention, patient screening, diagnostic tools and procedures. Trials may also evaluate lifestyle or behavioral changes that may improve health.

The Decision to Participate is Yours

As you think about taking part in a clinical trial, you may find it beneficial to talk with your medical team. Also consider the following:

  • You may have a rare diagnosis that does not have many approved treatments.
  • You could gain access to new tests and treatments before they are widely available.
  • Being actively involved in a clinical trial may help you better understand your diagnosis and how current research may guide your treatment options.
  • Your involvement will help current and future generations of people with cancer.