Why Clinical Trials Are Critical to Progress against Cancer

Clinical trials are essential for moving new methods of preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer from the laboratory to physicians’ offices and other clinical settings and, ultimately, to improve care and quality of life for people with cancer.

In clinical trials, researchers carefully and methodically test drugs, medical devices, screening approaches, behavioral modifications, and other interventions. Trials are used to answer many different clinical questions relevant to all aspects of health care, such as whether a treatment can prevent cancer in people at increased risk, whether a new drug can extend the lives of patients with advanced cancer, or whether specific treatment approaches can improve patients’ quality of life. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) typically requires proof of safety and effectiveness of a new anticancer drug in a large clinical trial before it can be used broadly in patient care.

In addition to testing new interventions, clinical trials can help determine the best use of existing interventions, test new approaches for increasing the number of people who seek follow-up care after a positive cancer screening test, and test ways to improve end-of-life care for patients.

(Content provided by the National Cancer Institute)

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