Making the Decision

Your medical oncologist and the rest of your healthcare team are your partners in deciding if cancer research is right for you. Make sure to discuss all options with them. If you find a study that seems like a good fit, call the study coordinator, most often an oncology nurse, and ask for more detailed information. You may also ask your doctor or nurse to request a certain protocol, or trial plan, and help you understand it. Make sure you feel comfortable with the information you are given. The protocol outlines important things you must consider when making a decision, including:

The reason for doing the study

How many people will be in the study

Who is eligible to participate

What drugs you will take

What medical tests you will have and how often

What information will be collected24

How often you will be expected to visit the doctor/study team

It is important that you know specific information about your case so you can assess whether you are eligible for the trial. Most trials are designed for a very specific type of patient, so the more you know about your particular case, the more time-efficient you will be. Your medical oncologist or oncology nurse can provide you with your history. The information you should know includes:

The stage of your cancer and your prognosis

The size of the tumor

The type of cell

The location of your tumor

The standard treatment for your diagnosis

If you have a recurrent cancer (a cancer that has returned), make sure you know:

The previous treatments you have received

The names of drugs, dates and number of treatments you have received

From a personal perspective, there are some considerations to be made and many issues you should discuss with your treatment team. For example, is the study being conducted close to your home? If not, will you be able to travel on a regular basis to receive treatment? Are you willing to keep records of how you feel? Does your insurance cover your medical expenses? Are you willing to make a commitment to the program and stick with it?

Also, keep in mind that as a clinical trial participant, you may be asked to:

Visit a healthcare provider regularly

Take medication

Have laboratory and diagnostic tests

Change your diet and exercise habits

For more information that can help you decide if clinical trials are right for you, visit www.cancercare.org.