Clinical Trials Need Volunteers Like You!
All treatments that are available today have been discovered through clinical trials. Clinical trials rely on volunteers to study new treatments. Clinical trials are often viewed as the best treatment option for Stage II, III and IV melanoma patients, so it is important that you learn about them as a treatment option to help you make an informed treatment decision. All treatment options, including clinical trials, should be thoroughly discussed with your melanoma team.
What is a Clinical Trial?
Clinical research studies help find new ways to treat, prevent and diagnose diseases. A clinical trial is carefully designed to closely monitor people’s progress as they go through treatment with an investigational drug, product, device or method of treatment that has not been approved by the FDA. Today, all medications prescribed by a doctor must first be tested in clinical research studies. Study participants receive close medical supervision and provide valuable feedback on their experiences.
All treatments must go through three phases of clinical research before becoming available to the public:
- Phase I focuses primarily on safety in a small number of human volunteers
- Phase II tests the effectiveness of the new drug on a small number of human volunteers
- Phase III usually tests the new drug in comparison with the standard therapy currently being used on a larger number of human volunteers
Please remember, participating in a clinical trial is voluntary. Participants may choose to discontinue participation at any time.
Find Melanoma Clinical Trials
Are you looking for more information on clinical trials? It is important to discuss all treatment options, including clinical trials, with your melanoma treatment team, especially if you have been diagnosed with Stage II, III or IV melanoma. There are many ways you can learn more about available clinical trials, which centers of excellence are participating in clinical trials, and how to enroll in clinical trials; however, two of the easiest are noted below:
1. The Melanoma Research Foundation’s Clinical Trial Finder, hosted through our partner, EmergingMed, can provide you with a free, confidential, personalized service that helps you understand which trials may be an option for you. For best results, we recommend that you register and complete the profile information. This process helps ensure you are matched to the best possible trials for you.
2. The NIH hosts a world-wide clinical trial database provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Be specific in your search terms to find the most helpful results.
Reasons to Consider a Clinical Trial
There are a number of reasons you or your doctor may want to consider participation in a clinical trial, including:
- Access to investigational treatments before they become widely available
- Opportunity to play a role in the discovery of treatments, cures and preventions for certain diseases or medical conditions
- Ability to play a more active role in your own healthcare
- Access to free physical examinations and diagnostic tests related to the study
Importance of Tissue Donation for Research
Although tissue is critical for decisions related to patient care, it is also essential for clinical research. Tissues are the materials of which all people are made, this includes blood, tumor tissue, urine, bone marrow, lymph nodes, etc. Investigators study tissues to try and learn more about cancer (understanding what causes it and how it can be prevented), what patients will respond to specific treatments, and/or to determine if a patient is responding to a specific treatment, as well as many other areas of research. The Importance of Tissue Donation in Research is clearly outlined in the free publication available on the Research Advocacy’s Network website.