21 Nov 2017
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Thyroid Cancer Forum UK

Thyroid Cancer Forum UK

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Clinical Trials

Taking Part in Research

The following information has been taken from the We Are Macmillan. Cancer Support website (http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Cancertreatment/Clinicaltrials/Clinicaltrials.aspx)

Cancer research trials are carried out to try to find new and better ways of preventing, diagnosing, screening, treating and controlling the symptoms of cancer. They may also look at how the quality of life or sense of well-being for people with cancer can be improved. Trials that are carried out on patients are known as clinical trials.

Carrying out clinical trials is the only way to find out if a new approach to cancer care is better than the standard approach currently used. Without trials, it would be very difficult to improve the prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. There would also be a risk that patients could be given treatments that could be harmful.

Treatment trials are the most common type of trial. In cancer care, they may be carried out to:

  • test new treatments such as new chemotherapy drugs and targeted therapies
  • look at new combinations of existing treatments, or change the way they are given, in order to make them more effective or to reduce side effects
  • compare the effectiveness of drugs used for symptom control
  • see which treatments are the most cost-effective
  • discover which treatments have fewer side effects
  • find out how cancer treatments work
  • see which treatments have the least impact on patients’ everyday lives.

Treatment trials are the only reliable way of finding out if a different operation, type of chemotherapy, targeted therapy or radiotherapy| is better than what is already available.

If doctors already knew that a new treatment was better than the standard treatment, there would be no need for a clinical trial and patients would be offered it routinely as part of their care.

The treatment being tested may aim to:

  • increase the number of people cured (where the cancer doesn’t come back)
  • improve survival (how long people live after treatment)
  • relieve the symptoms of cancer
  • reduce the side effects of treatment
  • improve quality of life or sense of well-being for people with cancer.

Many drugs that have been tested in clinical trials are now commonly used.

Quality of life trials

You may be invited to one of these trials, which look at ways of improving a person’s sense of well-being. Many quality of life trials are combined with treatment trials because doctors want to know what effect a particular treatment has on a person’s everyday life. They often include questionnaires, which are completed at different stages during the trial. These may assess the psychological and financial impact of the treatment on both patients and their carers. For example, it may assess whether someone has to take time off work to look after you while you have your cancer treatment.


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Dr. Laura Moss
Velindre Hospital, Velindre Road, Whitchurch, Cardiff, CF14 2TL

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