Learn about Cancer Clinical Trials

Clinical Trials Feature

In an April 1 official proclamation, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has marked the state's first observance of Cancer Clinical Trials Awareness Month.

The Iowa Cancer Consortium (ICC), a group of 300 partners working to reduce the pain, hardship, and cost of cancer in Iowa, aims to use the observance to boost the public's awareness of the role clinical trials have in fighting cancer.

“Cancer clinical trials are central to our ability to make progress against cancer,” says George Weiner, MD, president of the ICC and director of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa. “Participation is good for patients today and critical for progress tomorrow.”

The intent of a clinical trial is to look for new and better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose or treat a disease, Weiner adds.

Among the several hundred clinical trials offered through Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, many look at the effect and safety of a treatment. Some look at the link between risk factors and disease. Other trials may look at tissues or blood to learn about a disease or use surveys to learn how a disease affects daily living. Lastly, there are trials that look for ways to improve the comfort and quality of life of people with a disease.

Test Your Thinking

Members of the ICC invite you to take a true-false quiz to test your knowledge of cancer clinical trials:

1. True or False: Your doctor knows best and can tell if you should consent to participate in a clinical trial.
False. Your doctor is likely to be a valuable source of advice and information, but only you can decide whether to participate in a clinical trial. No one—not even medical experts—can predict whether a treatment, screening, prevention, or supportive care method under evaluation in a trial will prove successful. The informed consent process is designed to help you weigh all of the information and make the right choice for you or your child.
2. True or False: Health Insurance will cover the cost of a clinical trial.
True. Many insurers cover the costs of treatment that they cover if you were not in a clinical trial. Other costs may not be covered. Check with your study coordinator to see if you are covered.
3. True or False: You can drop out of a clinical trial any time you wish.
True. You may withdraw from a clinical trial at any time.