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Clinical Trials

Posted Oct 10 2011 12:00am
Written by:  Trevor Bradshaw 
      One of the most devastating and terrifying aspects of a cancer diagnosis is the acknowledgement that for many forms of cancer there is still no completely effective treatment. For all the advances that medical science has made, cancer remains terribly resistant to most forms of medication and treatment. Ultimately, despite increased awareness and great strides in medicine the relative survival cancer survival rate, which measures the survival of cancer patients in comparison to the general population, remains a dismally low 65.3% . But, aided by brave and compassionate cancer patients themselves, doctors and scientists are continuing to fight for a cure to cancer with one of the most effective tools in their arsenal- clinical trials.
     Clinical trials, which are studies of new treatments and medicines conducted on actual cancer patients before being released to the general public, are an indispensable resource to future medical gains because they allow doctors to assess the benefits and effects of treatments in a real-world setting. As such, when cancer patients volunteer for clinical trials they are further assisting in medical research and helping patients who have yet to be diagnosed.
     But when patients participate they are not only giving back to the community and helping to save lives, they are also taking the opportunity to play a more active role in their own health care. One of the main benefits of clinical trials is that they allow patients to have access to new treatments, therapies, and drugs that may be effective before they are made available to the general public. This early access can be essential to patients with cancers with low survival rates such as pancreatic cancer , colon cancer , and testicular mesothelioma .
     Of course, clinical trials can have a multitude of risks as well as benefits, and to ensure safety all information about any clinical trials should be obtained from reliable medical sources and held at recognized hospitals. But even reputable clinical trials can pose a risk for some patients, including the chance of serious or unpleasant side-effects. I’m sure everyone has heard the talking points at the end of pharmaceutical commercials listing the side-effects, and it’s in clinical trials that those side effects are diagnosed. Even worse, the treatment or medicine administered in the clinical trial may ultimately prove to be ineffective.
     If you are interested in locating a clinical trial there is information available online even for rare cancers. The American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institutes of Health all maintain comprehensive lists of ongoing clinical trials, as well as results for previous ones. Even mesothelioma clinical trials are available around the country. The best way to find a clinical trial however is simply to consult with your doctor. Because your doctor is aware of your age, health condition, and type and stage of your cancer he will be available to direct you to the best possible trial.
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