Myths of Clinical Research

Myth: My doctor knows best; he or she can tell me whether or not I should consent to participate in clinical research.
Answer: False. Your doctor is likely to be a valuable source of advice and information, but only you can make a decision. 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.

Myth: You need to be near a big hospital to take part in clinical research.
Answer: False. Many times cancer clinical research take place at local hospitals. Some also take place at local cancer clinics and doctor’s offices.

Myth: There are real benefits from participating in clinical research.
Answer: Fact. By participating in clinical research, patients have access to the latest drugs or procedures and are among the first to receive potentially effective new therapies. Studies have shown that trial participants have outcomes that are as good as, if not better than, those who do not participate, even if they get the standard of care and not the treatment that is being tested.

Myth: Cancer clinical research patients are given sugar pills.
Answer: False. Patients who participate in clinical research are given the best treatment available or the chance to receive a new treatment being considered. Sugar pills (also called placebos) are rarely used in cancer clinical research and are never used in place of treatment.

Myth: The informed-consent document outlines all of the possible known risks and side effects of each research study.
Answer: True. By law, each informed consent document must contain information on all the known risks associated with a research study.

Myth: Clinical research patients are treated like guinea pigs.
Answer: False. Ninety-seven percent of Harris survey participants who took part in clinical research studies said that they were treated with respect and received excellent or good quality care. Patients in cancer clinical research studies have outcomes as good as, if not better than, those who do not participate.

Myth: Health insurance will not cover the costs of clinical research.
Answer: False. Many insurers cover the costs of treatment that they cover if you were not in clinical research. Other costs may not be covered. Check with your study coordinator to see if you are covered.

Myth: You can drop out of a clinical research study any time you wish.
Answer: True. You may withdraw from a clinical trial at any time.

Myth: The Cancer Information Service can help you search for clinical research opportunities.
Answer: True. The Cancer Information Staff (CIS) search for research studies each day for patients and physicians. The CIS can also teach you how to search for studies.

Myth: Medicare covers the patient care costs of clinical research.
Answer: True. Medicare has been covering these costs since June 2000.

Myth: A patient can become the subject of clinical research without knowing they are.
Answer: False. All patients in clinical research studies are volunteers and must sign an informed consent. Even after signing a consent form, patients are free to withdraw from the study at any time they choose.

Myth: Researchers and doctors may not tell the risks associated with clinical research studies.
Answer: False. Before patients can participate in clinical research they must read and sign the informed consent document. This document contains a list of potential risks of each study.

Myth: Many cancer patients are not aware of clinical research when they decide on a treatment plan.
Answer: True. A National Study by the Lung Cancer Alliance showed that 80 percent of study participants were not aware of available and appropriate clinical research opportunities at the time they were exploring treatment options.

Myth: Cancer clinical research studies are for people who have no other options.
Answer: False. Research studies are often another option that offers a treatment plan that may better address the patient’s needs and continue their quality of life.