Many of the teens with cancer who come to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Seattle Children’s are treated in clinical studies. These research studies (also called clinical trials) are designed to find new and better cancer treatments. (Some of them study other aspects of living with cancer, such as side effects and social and emotional issues.)
One reason that the cure rates for childhood cancers have improved dramatically over the past few decades is that the majority of teens and children with cancer take part in clinical trials.
One thing you should know before you consider a clinical trial: Clinical trials are proven to offer teens (and children) with cancer the best chance of survival.
This doesn’t mean that the thought of becoming a research participant isn’t a little scary at first. You may hear people joking about not wanting to be “a human guinea pig,” and you may feel the same, so let’s start there.
One of the common myths about clinical trials is the guinea pig one. It simply isn’t true. The doctors who are caring for you want to offer you the best treatment available, and often that means enrolling in a research study.
You may want to read more about clinical study myths versus facts.
Under Age 18?
If you are younger than 18, your parents will have to give their consent for you to participate in a clinical study.
Although your parents will sign the consent forms, you will be asked to give your permission as well. You will be asked for your assent, which means that you understand the trial and agree to participate. Before you do this, make sure you do understand the treatment you are being offered and why your doctors think it is the best option for you. Don’t hesitate to ask questions.
When you are considering a clinical study, here’s a list of questions for you and your parents to discuss together and with your doctors.
Finally, you (and your parents) may want to read more about clinical studies for children and teens.