Cancer Education

Clinical Trials and your cancer

By: Odette Cancer Centre Clinical Research Programme Blog Working Group

There is an abundance of information out there about clinical trials. In the Patient Education and Resource Learning centre (PEARL) at the Odette Cancer Centre you can pick up a free copy of “Clinical Trials, A guide for people with cancer” written by the Canadian Cancer Society, which contains a lot of useful and relevant general information related to clinical trials.

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The guide includes the following info:

What is a clinical trial?
A clinical trial is a type of research study. Clinical trials help find new methods for diagnosing, treating, managing and preventing cancer.

Why are clinical trials important?
Clinical trials show us what does and doesn’t work in medicine. They answer important scientific questions and lead to future research. Through past clinical trials, doctors have developed new methods of surgery that are easier on the patient, found new and more efficient drugs for specific types of cancer and found treatments that have fewer side effects.

Joining a clinical trial
You may be thinking about taking part in a clinical trial or your doctor may have asked you about participating in one. There are many reasons why you might choose to take part. Many people like the idea that they’re helping other with cancer, both now and in the future.

If you’re thinking of participating in a clinical trial, talk to your doctor or someone on your healthcare team. They can answer your questions and help find out whether you’re eligible to enter a specific trial. Before deciding whether a clinical trial is an option for you or someone you care about, it’s important to learn all you can about the trial

What you need to know
Each clinical trial has its own protocol, criteria for eligibility, benefits and risks. It is important that you understand each of these before you decide to enroll in a trial. Discuss the details of the clinical trial with your healthcare team.

Giving informed consent
You will be asked to give informed consent before taking part in a clinical trial. You will receive a printed informed consent form that outlines key facts about the study in plain language. The form should include details about the treatment, tests and any potential benefits, risks or side effects of the treatment. It should explain anything else that you may have to do. If you agree to take part in the study, you will be asked to sign the consent form and you will be given a copy of it.

• You understand that the trial is a scientific experiment, and there may be risks to your health.
• You have been told why the trial is being done, the drugs you might be given, the number of clinic visits and the kinds of lab tests required.
• You have all the information you need to decide whether to take part in the trial.

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The informed consent process continues throughout the study. You will be told about new information that develops during your clinical trial, such as new risks. You may be asked to sign a new consent from as things develop during the study.

Even after you have given your consent, you can leave the trial at any time. You are in control and have the right to leave a clinical trial at any time. You do not need to give a reason.

Other links of interest about clinical trials
Clinical Trials at Sunnybrook:

Ontario Cancer Trials:

Canadian Cancer Trials:

National Cancer Institute:

Cancer View:

Clinical Trials Registry:

Odette Cancer Centre Clinical Research Programme Blog Working Group

About the author

Patient & Family Education, Cancer

Blog posts from Patient & Family Education team at Sunnybrook’s Odette Cancer Centre. Visit the Patient & Family Education website for more resources, workshops and information.

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