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Cancer Clinical Trial Myths

Updated on September 26, 2010

Why a Clinical Trial?

First of all it can be very scary being diagnosed with cancer. Your doctor may immediately want to talk to you about a clinical trial and you may feel as though this is your only option.

You have more options besides participating in a clinical trial.

You can choose to receive standard therapy or not receive any treatment at all. Standard therapy is the treatment that has already been approved for your cancer. Your cancer may or may not benefit from receiving standard therapy. You may choose to not have any treatment at all or you may choose to volunteer as a participant in a clinical trial. Cancer clinical trials often compare standard therapy to an investigational new drug or standard therapy to observation.

Continue reading about the most common myths and what you can do debunk them and help you decide if you should participate in a cancer clinical trial.

Myth 1: “I don’t want to get only the sugar pills.”

Many cancer trials do use sugar pills or placebo, however they are combined with the standard therapy for your cancer. These types of trials test the sugar pill against the new agent in combination with the drug you would normally receive. Carefully read over the consent form to fully understand what the study is testing.

Myth 2: "I will have to Pay Out of Pocket."

A majority of the time, insurance companies cover the cost of cancer clinical trial. Some states require insurance companies to cover clinical trial costs, while other states do not mandate this. You should most likely request from your doctor to ensure that the trial will be covered by your insurance. Most government sponsored cancer clinical trials require your insurance to cover the cost of the trial. A majority of clinics have programs to determine if your insurance will cover the cost or not.

Myth 3: ”I Can’t Change My Mind.”

You can always change your mind at any time whether or not you want to participate in a clinical trial. Because many chemotherapy drugs are very high doses it is recommended you consult with your physician about stopping. You can choose to not receive any treatment or you can choose standard therapy.

Myth 4: ”I am a Guinea Pig.”

Many people feel as though they will be treated as a guinea pig and experimented on. The truth is your quality of care may increase if you participate in a clinical trial because you are monitored very closely and you may undergo more tests or procedures that you normally wouldn’t. The Food and Drug Administration has very strict guidelines in place to protect human subjects. For example and institutional review board continually reviews the clinical trials and ensures safety for the participants.

An excellent place to start your research is to visit

Cancer Clinical Trials: Making Your Decision by NIH4Health


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