Cancer Clinical Trials
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You and your doctor may decide it’s beneficial for you to explore clinical trials for cancer prevention, screening or treatment. If you participate in a clinical trial, you’ll take part in one of the final stages of a comprehensive research process to determine promising new approaches to cancer care.
During a clinical trial at Rush Copley Cancer Care Center, you’ll work with a variety of health care professionals who provide your care, closely monitor your health, advise you about the study and follow up with you after the trial ends.
Types of Cancer Clinical Trials
Depending on your medical needs, you may be eligible to participate in one of four types of available cancer clinical trials. Those trials include:
- Prevention trials – Test new methods—such as medicines or supplements—to potentially lower your risk of developing or redeveloping certain types of cancer
- Quality of life (supportive care trials) – Explore ways to improve your quality of life after a cancer diagnosis
- Screening trials – Examine the best way to detect cancer, particularly in early stages
- Treatment trials – Assess the effectiveness of new cancer treatments, including medicines, radiation therapy and gene therapy
Phases of Clinical Trials
If you’re participating in a study that tests the effectiveness of a new medication, you’ll likely be involved in one of three phases throughout the trial process. These phases help protect you and allow your care team to gather reliable information about the treatment:
- Phase I trials – Examine the best way to administer a new medication, such as delivery method, dosage and frequency
- Phase II trials – Test the safety and effectiveness of a medication
- Phase III trials – Compare the effectiveness of a new medication against the current treatment standard
Risks & Benefits of Clinical Trial Participation
No matter which type of clinical trial you participate in, you’ll get cancer care from some of the top physicians in the field of cancer research. And because a cancer clinical trial tests emerging treatments, you may benefit more quickly than non-participants from access to new treatments.
Risks of Participation in a Cancer Study
You may experience side effects from the new treatment being tested. Throughout the study, your care team will closely monitor your health so they can quickly notice any symptoms and adjust your treatment accordingly.
It’s also possible your therapy won’t be effective in treating your cancer, either in general or for you in particular. You’re encouraged to discuss any concerns about this with your physician and the clinical trial medical team.
Use of Placebos in Cancer Clinical Trials
It’s unlikely you’ll get a placebo—treatment that contains no active ingredients—during a cancer clinical trial. This is, in part, because emerging treatments often are tested against the effectiveness of current therapy methods. Generally, placebos are used only in studies for cancers that don’t currently have treatments.
Your health care team will tell you ahead of time if there’s a possibility you’ll get a placebo during your study participation.
Informed Consent for a Clinical Trial
The research team in charge of the study will give you all the important information you need about the clinical trial to help you decide whether you’d like to participate. This process, called informed consent, details the approach the study will take, the possible risks and benefits, and the tests you may need to undergo. You’re encouraged to ask your health care team questions during this period of time—as well as during the study itself—to help you feel more comfortable about the process.
If at any point during a clinical trial—including during the post-trial follow-up period—you decide you’d no longer like to participate, you’re free to leave the study at any time.