Modern medicine is constantly evolving, especially in oncology. As new treatments are developed, however, doctors and researchers must weigh their benefits and risks carefully against existing methods. If you’ve been asked to participate in a Phase 3 study, you’ll have the opportunity to help answer these questions and improve treatment for future patients. RCCA hosts 300-plus cancer clinical trials, including Phase 3 studies, so it’s easy to find one that’s appropriate for your diagnosis.
As mentioned, cancer clinical trials are studies conducted to find new treatments for illnesses and determine their safety. By giving new medications or having patients undergo certain treatments, clinical trials can also measure the effectiveness of each discovery. As a patient with cancer, you are not required to participate in clinical trials. They are completely voluntary, and participants are always given all the information required to make decisions about the benefits and risks of each study.
Additionally, each study has a unique set of restrictions and requirements. If you would like to join one, make sure to discuss your eligibility with your oncologist. He or she can help you fully understand the proposed treatment, its value, and how you may benefit. In the end, only you and your doctor can decide if a clinical trial is right for you.
There are generally five phases of cancer clinical trials, each with a specific question to answer. After a study has gone through the first few phases, the potential treatment has been determined to be safe for humans and has a positive effect. At this point, Phase 3 studies are used to demonstrate how effective and safe this new treatment is compared to the method used currently.
Testing the effectiveness compared to current methods is an important step, as introducing another treatment to the public is not helpful if it doesn’t perform as well as what is already available. Safety is another critical factor: If a new treatment is found to be much more effective but causes more severe side effects, researchers then need to evaluate the treatment’s benefits against its potential risks to determine the overall value.
Since the purpose of these studies is to compare new treatments with existing ones, both will be administered to patients. Patients are assigned at random to receive either the standard or new treatment, so you will have an equal chance of being in either group. In most Phase 3 studies, treatment is delivered “double-blind,” meaning that neither the patient nor doctor knows which treatment is being given. Randomization and double-blind drug administration together help eliminate bias and ensure valid results.
Phase 3 studies are large, with each involving hundreds of participants. These participants usually will be spread out across the country or even around the world. All patients start the trial at the same time, and the study will continue for a relatively long time compared to other phases. Because this is a comparative study, placebos rarely are used.
Cancer clinical trials offer participants an opportunity to help make more treatments available to future patients. If you would like to take part in a trial, RCCA offers a complete list of all available Phase 3 studies. To learn more, review our current list of all clinical trials, contact one of our 30 locations throughout New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maryland or call 201-518-3587 for additional details.
Regional Cancer Care Associates is one of fewer than 200 medical practices in the country selected to participate in the Oncology Care Model (OCM); a recent Medicare initiative aimed at improving care coordination and access to and quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries undergoing chemotherapy treatment.