All approved cancer treatments available today have been proven in clinical trials. Clinical trials are research studies that test the idea that a new treatment or other healthcare intervention is better than the existing drug or practice. While it may be natural to assume that the new treatment is better, this may not be the case. It may be worse in terms of its effect on the cancer, its side effects, costs, or inconvenience to you. On the other hand, it might truly be better and become established as the new standard of care.
When patients take part in clinical trials, there is always some uncertainty as to whether the new treatment is better or worse than the standard therapy. Clinical trials are the only way forward to improve cancer treatment. For patients, joining a clinical trial is a big decision and there are several factors you need to think about as you make this decision.
What is a clinical trial?
A clinical trial is an experiment that tests an idea. It could be an idea about how to give a treatment, for example, if a new treatment is safe or how well it works. The treatment being tested can be a drug, a new way of giving radiation or performing an operation, or something as simple as a different way of caring for patients. Sometimes the clinical trial tests a combination of drugs or treatments that have not been tested before to see if two treatments combined are better than one.
At any time there are many trials testing new cancer treatments occurring all around the world. These trials cover many different types of cancer and include thousands of patients. All of the approved drugs we can use to treat kidney cancer have been tested in clinical trials at some point. In kidney cancer, researchers are also working to determine which treatments work best for which patients.