Clinical Trials

The aim of a clinical trial is to improve a particular treatment for cancer. This may involve changing or comparing existing medical or surgical treatment. Alternatively, the trial may focus on the treatment experience, such as working out how to reduce posiible side effects.

Clinical trials are essential for developing successful cancer treatments and it may take many years to move from a clinical trial to standard treatment. 

During treatment for prostate cancer, men may be asked if they would like to take part in a clinical trial. This will be entirely up to them and standard treatment will not be affected in any way if they do not want to take part. People who are taking part in a clinical trial can also end their participation at any stage.

Advantages of Clinical Trials

  • Men may have the chance to be treated with a new type of drug or procedure which is not normally available. 
  • Men may feel that you are helping other people and that some good has come out of their illness. 

Disadvantages of Clinical Trials

  • Many trials use a process called randomisation to decide who receives the new treatment and who receives a placebo (a sugar pill).
  • Men are likely to have to go to the hospital more often for blood tests or other procedures. 
  • The treatment may not prove to be any better than the treatment currently offered.

How Clinical Trials Work

There are four phases to clinical trials: 

Phase 1

This involves research into safety and side effects, and whether the proposed treatment has any potential benefits. 

Phase 2 

This looks at how well a treatment works, usually among a small group of people. Information is collected about safety and side effects. 

Phase 3 

This tests the new treatment against the best existing treatment among a larger group of people. The researchers will want to see if the benefits from Phase 2 continue. 

Phase 4 

This is a wider trial. Researchers will still collect information on how well the treatment works. They will look for side effects that were not seen in the previous phases.