Clinical trials are extremely important scientific studies that are needed and required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to assess new medical treatments, including treatments for lymphoma. There can be benefits to participating in a clinical trial that are available to people with lymphoma. Read more about the possible pros and cons of clinical trial participation here.
Access to New Treatments
There are several reasons to participate in a clinical trial. One is to gain access to a treatment that is not otherwise available. The treatment may be better than those already approved for the condition. Treatments can include new medications, medication combinations, stem cell treatments, or surgeries. New biological approaches, such as reducing tumor growth or preventing tumors from growing, are additionally under study for lymphoma. Treatments may also focus on improving the general care and quality of life for people with lymphoma. Before you participate in a trial, the study will be thoroughly explained to you in the “Informed Consent” document, and by the researchers conducting it.
Access to Expert Medical Care
By participating in a clinical trial, you will also likely gain access to medical experts in the field at a leading healthcare facility, in addition to gaining access to the treatment provided.
Free Treatment or Reduced Costs
Treatments in clinical trials are typically free to the participants or the trial may be associated with reduced costs. Sometimes continued treatment is free even after the trial ends, or in a study extension phase. The costs or reduction of costs are described in the “Informed Consent” document and should also be a topic to discuss with the study’s organizers before a trial begins.
Helping Advance Science, Helping Others
Clinical trials help to advance science and to generally help other people with the medical condition being studied. They may help with making a new treatment available, but could also improve the general understanding of the disease. People with lymphoma can participate in trials and help advance science, but healthy people are also often eligible to help test out a new treatment, typically in earlier stages of clinical trials.
Despite successes in treatment, lymphomas still result in fatalities. In 2014, an estimated 20,170 people died from lymphoma, 1,180 from Hodgkin’s lymphoma and 18,990 from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.1 Although current treatments have reduced lymphoma deaths and improved survival, better treatments are still greatly needed. Clinical trials are a necessary and required mechanism for testing and approving new treatments, so that they can be available for those people who need them. Clinical trials are therefore essential in order for lymphoma research and treatment to advance.
Clinical trials offer hope for many people who have lymphoma that better treatments will be available in the future.
Other Benefits of Clinical Trials
Sometimes there are other incentives to participating in a clinical trial. Participants may receive some reimbursement or they may receive additional benefits, such as counseling or educational materials. These benefits are also detailed in the “Informed Consent” document that the participants are given before the trial starts.
Risks of Participation
A risk could be that the treatment is not better than that already available, or even has side effects. Note, however, that side effects are carefully monitored by researchers throughout clinical trials. Safety is a very important consideration, and the safety of a treatment is thoroughly tested in pre-clinical studies before that treatment is used in humans.
It is also possible that, instead of receiving the treatment, you will be placed in the comparison arm of a clinical trial and receive a standard treatment rather than the one under study. Placebo comparators are typically not used in cancer clinical trials, unless it has been determined that the individuals in the placebo group will not receive substantially worse care and worse outcomes than the people in the group receiving the experimental treatment. A placebo is a fake treatment, such as a sugar pill.
Even if you are assigned to the comparator group, note that the study investigators are still required to assure that you receive optimal care and your participation helps to advance the understanding and treatment of lymphoma. In some studies, the comparator group will receive the experimental treatment later. You can discuss with the study coordinators whether or not the experimental treatment will eventually be made available to the comparator group.
Participation in a clinical trial could also involve more trips to the medical facility and travel than is usual with standard treatment.
Deciding Whether or Not to Enroll
The decision to enroll in a clinical trial should involve a discussion between the person with lymphoma and that individual’s physician. Participation in a trial will depend on many factors, including the motivation for enrolling in a trial, the type of lymphoma, the trials available, and the stage of the lymphoma.
- http://www.lls.org/facts-and-statistics/facts-and-statistics-overview#Hodgkin (HL) and Non-Hodgkin (NHL) Lymphoma