Most improvements in the diagnosis, treatment and care of patients with cancer have resulted from clinical trials.
A clinical trial is a carefully designed investigation of a new device, treatment, technique, or combination of treatments in human patients.
Prevention Trials: These trials test new approaches, such as medicines, vitamins, or supplements, for example, which scientists believe may lower the risk of a certain type of cancer. These trials may be examining ways to prevent cancer in people who have never had it, or in people who have had a cancer previously and are at risk for another.
Screening Trials: These trials are testing the best ways to try to find a cancer at it's earliest stage, so that hopefully the chances of cure are higher, and the amount of treatment needed will be less.
Treatment Trials: These are the majority of trials being performed at most cancer centres. They may be examining a new surgical technique, drug, or radiation technique, or a combination of any of these. Drug trials may be examining newly developed drugs, or may be examining combinations of drugs, both new and old. The drugs being studied may be chemotherapy drugs, hormone treatments, immune treatments, or new types of drugs designed to attack or block the function or growth of the cancer cell in a new way.
There may also be trials of drugs or techniques which are meant to reduce the side effects of cancer treatments, or trials of drugs or techniques meant to reduce the symptoms of the cancer or to improve the quality of life of patients with cancer.