Patient Guide to Clinical Studies
Physicians at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) treat patients with cancer; they also conduct research at the SCCA founding organizations: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Medicine, and Seattle Children's.
Many people come to SCCA to gain access to leading-edge treatments, including clinical studies (also called clinical trials). They want to expand their options for treatment to include the latest and most innovative treatments, and they know that for many types of cancer the best chance for a cure is found in a clinical trial.
Cancer clinical studies are research studies that test how well new medical treatments work in people. Clinical studies may examine new kinds of screening, diagnosis, prevention or treatment. For example, they may test a new chemotherapy drug for toxicity or test a different dose for an established drug.
The goal of clinical studies is to increase our knowledge about cancer and develop more-effective, less-toxic cancer treatments.
Without clinical studies, new drugs and treatments could not be approved. No matter how promising a new treatment looks when tested with lab animals, it cannot be used to treat people until it has been carefully evaluated through the several phases of a clinical study. Every advance in cancer treatment in recent years has come out of a clinical study.
Take just one important example: Bone marrow transplantation, which is considered the most important advance in cancer treatment of the last quarter century.
Bone marrow transplantation was developed by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, one of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance's founding organizations. Without research and clinical trials, the improved outcomes and increased survival rates resulting from transplantation would not be possible.
In the pages that follow, you will find information about clinical studies. This section is written for cancer patients who are considering participating in a clinical study, and their families and friends.