Clinical trials are research studies that provide valuable information about the safety and effectiveness of promising new treatments. Harrison physicians participate in clinical trials in cooperation with cancer centers throughout the nation. This means you have access to the same cutting-edge treatments available to eligible patients in Seattle and Tacoma.
Types of trials
Who sponsors clinical trials?
Typically, clinical trials are sponsored by government agencies such as the National Cancer Institute, by private researchers and foundations or by pharmaceutical companies.
Are clinical trials a last resort?
Not at all. Patients may be eligible for clinical trials at any stage of treatment.
How to join a clinical trial
To participate, patients must meet eligibility requirements, which vary from study to study. Researchers gain the most accurate results by studying people who share certain characteristics, such as type and stage of cancer, so not every study will be right for you. If you are interested in taking part in a clinical trial, your physician can guide you in finding the most appropriate study. Participation is strictly voluntary, and you may leave a study at any time.
Benefits and risks
Patients who join clinical trials gain access to new treatments that are not yet widely available. They also have the satisfaction of knowing they are helping to advance medical science, which will benefit future patients.
By their nature, experimental treatments involve risks, as well. Unforeseen side effects may occur, and there is no guarantee an experimental drug will work better than conventional treatment. However, strict safeguards are in place to monitor patient welfare and ensure that studies follow ethical and scientific standards. Your physician can help you weigh the risks and potential benefits of participating in a clinical trial.
Trial sponsors typically cover costs associated with the research portion of a participant’s treatment, including extra tests that might be required for the study. Private insurance and Medicare generally cover “usual-care costs,” such as doctor visits and hospital stays related to ongoing care. However, coverage can vary widely. Before joining a clinical trial, make sure you understand what your costs will be. Your medical team and insurance provider should work together to give you the answers you need.
Finding suitable studies
Your treatment team is your first resource for identifying clinical trials that fit your situation. As members of major cancer-research cooperatives funded by the National Cancer Institute, Harrison physicians have access to a wide array of clinical trials.