Clinical trials create many inroads in the fight against cancer, but
enrollment is not nearly as high as it could be. Lack of education and
inaccurate information produces unsubstantiated fears about trials that
can often lead to a resistance to participate among cancer patients.
Following is a list of some of the more common misconceptions that
surround clinical trials and some accurate information that should help
allay these fears and lead to greater patient participation.
Myth: Clinical trials are by nature a risky
Fact: Clinical trials are another form of treatment
often available to patients, but patients often times do not know of the
option. Trials are closely monitored by the doctors and caregivers – as
well an Institutional Review Board* assigned to each trial – and details
and data are carefully documented. This close scrutiny frequently
results in better treatment than a patient may receive off a trial with
more conventional treatment.
* An Institutional Review Board (IRB) is comprised of health
professionals as well as community members. TCOP has 17 IRB members
including clergy, physicians, nurses and community members.
Myth: Clinical trials are highly experimental and
patients are treated like “guinea pigs.”
Fact: Clinical trials generally incorporate the best
available medicine and then add to it or adjust it to see if
enhancements can be made to improve the quality of life of patients or
improve their response rates. In addition, the overwhelming majority of
patients, when polled, feel they were treated fairly, and with respect
Myth: Sugar pills, or “placebos” are used often in
clinical trials rather than actual medicine.
Fact: Clinical trials afford patients with the best
treatment or offer the opportunity to receive a new treatment. Placebos
are rarely used in treatment trials. On the rare occasions when placebos
are incorporated into a trial, they never replace actual treatment.
Myth: Health insurance doesn’t cover treatment costs
for patients on clinical trials.
Fact: All treatment coverage, whether trials or
conventional, varies dependent upon insurance carriers; however, the
majority of insurers cover treatment costs on cancer clinical trials.
Always check with your doctor to discuss coverage of your particular
Myth: Medicare does not cover treatment costs for
patients on clinical trials.
Fact: Since June 2000, Medicare has covered the cost
of treatment trials.
Myth: Clinical trials are only offered in large
Fact: Cancer trials are becoming more and more
prevalent in an increasing number of communities in local hospitals.
Local cancer clinics and physician's offices also offer some trials.