About clinical trials
What is a clinical trial?
When new treatments, tests or interventions are developed looking to treat, manage, detect, or prevent medical conditions and diseases like cancer, clinical trials are conducted. These investigations help determine whether a new treatment or intervention is better than options that are already available, whether it works and if it is safe. A clinical trial requires people to volunteer as participants to accurately evaluate the outcomes of the research investigation.
Researchers develop and test new interventions in a laboratory setting, using computer simulation and animal studies. If these interventions show promise they are progressed into a clinical trial. Many clinical trials follow defined Phases. The early phases of clinical trials test on a small number of people to assess effectiveness and safety. If the intervention shows promise it will move to the later phase of testing with information relating to effectiveness and side effects being collected from a far larger group of participants.
How do you get involved in a clinical trial?
You may be eligible to take part in a clinical trial, so it is always a good idea to ask your care team if there is a trial suitable for your condition.
Most trials in upper GI cancer are looking at different treatment options with the aim of finding more effective treatments to improve survival and quality of life. Most chemotherapy trials compare a new treatment regimen with current best treatments.
Before you decide whether to take part in a trial you need to know exactly what is involved. Talk to your specialist and ask as many questions as you need. If you decide to take part, you will need to sign a form saying you understand what is involved and agree to take part (this is called informed consent). You can withdraw from the trial at any time if you change your mind without it affecting your care.
Being involved in a clinical trial has the benefits of allowing you access to the latest treatments before they become generally available. This is often combined with closer monitoring of your care and condition.
Regional and rural access to clinical trials
Traditionally, most clinical trials are delivered from metropolitan hospitals or cancer centres, often presenting a barrier for patients living in a regional or rural community.
However, there are now tele-oncology models of care available for regional and rural patients which allow clinicians at larger centres to work in partnerships with smaller centres in regional and rural areas to enrol and treat patients on clinical trials.
Access to teletrials allows for regional equity of access to the latest diagnostics and therapeutics while allowing patients to receive care close to home and remain with family in a familiar environment.
Ask your treating care team if there are suitable clinical teletrials available for you to access. You can learn more about teletrials at https://www.viccompcancerctr.org/what-we-do/clinical-trials-expansion/teletrials/
How to find a clinical trial
For information about current Australian cancer clinical trials visit the Australian Cancer Clinical trials website: www.australiancancertrials.gov.au.