Most of the advances in cancer are a result of research studies known as clinical trials. With the participation of volunteers like you, these highly regulated studies offer access to state-of-the-art cancer treatments that are not otherwise available. They are used to search for new and better ways to prevent, diagnose, treat and cure cancer. They are also conducted to help prevent and relieve the symptoms and side effects of cancer. The ultimate goal is to help you and the entire cancer community enjoy longer, healthier lives.
A clinical trial may offer one or more of the following benefits:
- In some cases, a clinical trial may be your best first treatment option, especially if your diagnosis has few or no approved therapies.
- It could offer an alternative if your cancer has become resistant to your current treatment.
- More specialists will be involved in your care because you will be monitored by the medical team managing your trial as well as by your regular oncologist.
- The treatment being tested may offer fewer side effects than your current treatment, improving your quality of life.
- By participating, you will be a partner in cancer research, helping improve treatments for future patients. The need is great for more clinical trial participants; minority patients are particularly needed.
As with any cancer treatment, those used in clinical trials present potential risks and extra time commitments. Ask your doctor about possible side effects and the schedule to accommodate the tests and appointments that are required for the trial.
How to Find a Clinical Trial
Let your team know whether you are open to considering a clinical trial. You can also search on your own. Use the list of clinical trial sites below and ask your doctor for additional recommendations.
Each search site is different, but in general, most follow the same process. Before you begin, have your exact diagnosis, pathology report and details of your previous cancer treatments on hand to help determine whether you meet the basic eligibility criteria. Every participant in a specific trial must meet the same criteria, such as the stage of disease, sites of metastasis, overall health requirements and previous treatments.
Start by entering “lung cancer” as your diagnosis. To further customize your search, enter applicable criteria, such as age and previous treatments, on the Results screen.
You can refine your search even more by adding a particular treatment type or genetic mutation. You can also add a National Clinical Trial identifier, which is a unique eight-digit code preceded by “NCT” that is assigned to each trial.
If you prefer a clinical trial close to home, enter your home address. Enter additional locations if you are willing and able to travel for treatment.
The recruitment status will indicate whether the trial is actively seeking patients, not yet recruiting or otherwise inactive. The status will change, so check for updates.
Take any potential trials you are interested in to your doctor to learn more and discuss whether they may be a good fit for you.
Clinical trials come in many forms
The following are explanations of some types of trials that are available.
Most people are familiar with this type of clinical trial that tests a new medical approach. These treatments may include new drugs, drug combinations, medical procedures or devices. Surgical techniques that are less invasive, result in less trauma and reduce patient recovery time, such as video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS), are constantly being improved with newer and better techniques. Recently, the focus has been on the identification of therapies that treat lung cancers with specific biomarkers. Research is also ongoing to find treatments for lung cancers that do not exhibit a biomarker for a specific mutation.
Disease Prevention and Patient Screening
Designed to evaluate one or more interventions aimed at identifying or diagnosing a particular disease or condition, these trials also find ways to prevent the initial development or recurrence of a disease or condition. These can include medicines, vaccines or lifestyle changes, among other approaches.
Diagnostic Tools and Procedures
These trials are conducted to examine new and improved methods for identifying a condition or the risk factors for that condition.
Genetic Risk Factors
Researchers seek to learn more about the genetic disorders and disease-related mutations that cause various types of lung cancer.
The goal of these trials is to explore and measure ways to make people more comfortable as they manage a chronic condition. Some of the studies test the effect lifestyle changes have on lowering the risk of cancer and on current cancer treatments.
How to Search for a Clinical Trial
- Cancer Support Community: www.cancersupportcommunity.org/find-clinical-trial, 888-793-9355
- ClinicalTrials.gov: www.clinicaltrials.gov
- Center for Information & Study on Clinical Research Participation: www.searchclinicaltrials.org
- NCI Cancer Information Service: 800-422-6237
- WCG CenterWatch: www.centerwatch.com, 866-219-3440
- Lazarex Cancer Foundation:www.lazarex.org, 877-866-9523
- LUNGevity Clinical Trial Search: clinicaltrials.lungevity.org
- National Cancer Institute: www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials
- GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer LungMATCH: 800-298-2436