Types of cancer clinical trials or studies
Each type of cancer clinical trial has a specific purpose. There are many different types of studies, including:
These are studies done on people who actually have cancer. They are designed by “phases” to answer questions about effectiveness, or to test a new treatment or a new way of using an older treatment. These studies might involve new drugs, vaccines, new surgical methods, or new radiation methods or combinations of these treatments.
These studies look at ways to reduce the risk or chance of getting cancer. These studies are usually for people who do not have cancer at the time of the study. These studies can also be done on cancer survivors to study how to reduce the risk of recurrence or developing another cancer. These studies will often require lifestyle changes like changes in diet, activity level or vitamin supplementation.
These studies look at better ways to detect cancer – in the earliest stages, when it is most treatable. These studies are done on people with no symptoms of cancer at the time they enroll in the study.
These studies look at tests that might be used to identify cancer more accurately and at an earlier stage of the disease. These studies are usually done with people who have no symptoms of the disease.
Quality of life trials (also called supportive care trials)
These studies test ways to improve comfort or life quality of cancer patients or cancer survivors or caregivers. They may involve studying ways to reduce the side effects of treatment, long-term side effects or how to improve the day-to-day quality of life after cancer.
Sometimes genetic studies are a part of another study. These studies focus on how your genetic makeup can affect behavior, diagnosis or response to treatment or how genetics impact detection, screening recommendations and side-effects.
These studies look at changing and improving behaviors that reduce the risks of cancer or cancer recurrence, or to improve coping skills or quality of life and possibly to reduce treatment side-effects. These studies often include studies on screening behavior, physical activity, diet, tobacco use, sun exposure etc. These studies can be focused on cancer prevention, early detection, treatment and/or survivorship.
Population or epidemiological studies
In these studies researchers look at tissue or blood samples from families or large groups of people to find genetic or other biological differences that are associated with cancer. People may or may not have cancer to participate. The goal of these studies is to gain an understanding of the patterns, causes and control of cancer in the groups that are being studied.
These studies are focused on evaluating a specific individuals tumor characteristics and then developing customized treatment based upon the unique character of that persons’ cancer. The goal is to “translate” what is learned in the pathology lab into real treatment for a patient in the shortest possible time period.