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Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Cancer Services

Taking part in a clinical trial is voluntary and completely up to each patient as long as the patient is eligible and meets the criteria for a particular trial. Each trial has written rules that state who can join the trial. Some of these requirements may include: having a certain type or stage of cancer, having received a certain kind of therapy in the past, and not having other serious medical conditions.

If a clinical trial is offered to a patient, there are a number of questions he or she should ask. Individuals should make sure to learn about the treatment involved, the possible risks and benefits, and what other options are available before they make a decision. A patient doesn’t need to make a decision right away, and should take time to think about all of his or her options. In the end, the patient makes the final decision about whether to join a clinical trial. Here are some questions a patient should ask before making a decision.

  • Should I participate in this trial?
  • Is this trial right for me?
  • Why is this clinical trial being done?
  • Why do the doctors who designed the trial believe that this treatment being studied may be better than the one being used now?
  • How long will I be in the trial?
  • What kinds of tests and treatments are involved in this trial?
  • What are the possible side effects or risks of the new treatment?
  • How will the doctor know if the treatment is working?
  • Will I have to pay for any of the treatments or tests?
  • What costs will my health insurance cover?
  • How could the trial affect my daily life?
  • How often will I have to come to the hospital or clinic?
  • What are my other treatment choices, including standard treatments?