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About Cancer Clinical Trials

As part of our mission of Curing Cancer Every Day, University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center is committed to finding new and better treatments and procedures in the fight against cancer, and clinical trials are one of the ways through which we can achieve this.

Some clinical trials look at standard medications or procedures in a new way, others look at the current standard treatment given along with a new medication or procedure, and others look at only new medications or procedures. Depending on the type of clinical trial, some are available to patients as an initial treatment option or who haven’t had any treatment yet; other trials are available to patients for whom a standard treatment plan is no longer effective. There may be a clinical trial that’s right for a patient regardless of his or her type of cancer, how advanced the cancer is, or whether or not he or she has already had some treatment. At UH Seidman Cancer Center, a healthcare team will help each patient decide whether a clinical trial is appropriate...

Clinical Trial Phases

Each phase of a clinical trial answers important questions about a possible new treatment or procedure. For a treatment to become part of a standard of care, it must first go through three to four clinical trial phases. A patient participating does not have to take part in every phase. Each phase serves a different purpose and all information is clearly explained by the patient’s healthcare team. The initial phases make sure the treatment is safe for patients. Later phases will show if it is more effective than the current standard treatment.

Purpose Number of people who take part
Phase I
To find a safe dose
To decide how the new treatment should be given
To see how the new treatment affects the human body
15-30 people
Phase II
To determine if the new treatment has an effect on a certain cancer
To see how the new treatment affects the human body
Less than 100 people
Phase III
To compare the new treatment (or new use of a treatment) with the current standard treatment
From 100 to thousands of people
Phase IV
To further assess the long-term safety and effectiveness of a new treatment
Several hundred to several thousand people

Types of Clinical Trials

There are many types of trials that seek to improve prevention, screening, treatment and quality of life (supportive care).

  • Prevention: Prevention trials look at whether certain substances such as vitamins or drugs, diet changes or lifestyle changes can lower the risk of cancer.
  • Screening: Screening trials are used to look closely at methods of finding cancer before a person has any symptoms. This is done by researchers studying lab tests and imaging procedures that may detect certain types of cancer.
  • Treatment: Treatment trials look at new treatments and new combinations of existing treatments.
  • Quality of life (supportive care): Quality of Life trials study ways to improve the comfort and quality of life of those living with cancer. For example, doctors may study drugs that reduce the side effects of chemotherapy or they may explore ways to prevent weight loss or control pain.