View the list of current Treatment Trials available through the Genesis Cancer Care Institute and Iowa Cancer Specialists.
What is a clinical trial?
Clinical trials are research studies in which people help doctors find ways to improve health and cancer care. Each study tries to answer scientific questions and to find better ways to prevent, diagnose or treat cancer.
Why are there clinical trials?
A clinical trial is one of the final stages of a long and careful cancer research process. Studies are done with cancer patients to find out whether promising approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment are safe and effective.
What are the different types of clinical trials?
Treatment trials test new treatments (like a new cancer drug, new approaches to surgery or radiation therapy, new combinations of treatments, or new methods such as gene therapy).
Prevention trials test new approaches, such as medicines, vitamins, minerals, or other supplements that doctors believe may lower the risk of a certain type of cancer. These trials look for the best way to prevent cancer in people who have never had cancer or to prevent cancer from coming back or a new cancer occurring in people who have already had cancer.
Screening trials test the best way to find cancer, especially in its early stages.
Quality of Life trials (also called Supportive Care trials) explore ways to improve comfort and quality of life for cancer patients.
What are the phases of clinical trials?
Most clinical research that involves the testing of a new drug progresses in an orderly series of steps called phases. This allows researchers to ask and answer questions in a way that results in reliable information about the drug and protects the patients. Most clinical trials are classified into one of three phases:
Phase I Trials:
These first studies in people evaluate how a new drug should be given (by mouth, injected into the blood, or injected into the muscle), how often, and what dose is safe. A Phase I usually enrolls only a small number of patients, sometimes as few as a dozen.
Phase II Trials:
A Phase II trial continues to test the safety of the drug, and begins to evaluate how the new drug works. Phase II studies usually focus on a particular type of cancer.
Phase III Trials:
These studies test a new drug, a new combination of drugs, or a new procedure in comparison to the current standard. A participant will usually be assigned to the standard group at random. Phase III trials often enroll large numbers of people and may be conducted at many doctors' offices, clinics and cancer centers nationwide.
In addition, after a treatment has been approved and is being marketed, the drug's maker may study it further in a phase IV trial. The purpose of phase IV trials is to evaluate the side effects, risks and benefits of a drug over a longer period of time and in a larger number of people than in phase III clinical trials. Thousands of people are involved in a phase IV trial.
Why should I participate in a clinical trial?
Today it is possible to enroll in a clinical trial as the first step in your treatment after a cancer diagnosis. There are literally hundreds of trials available across the country. In fact, many of our most effective treatments used today for breast, colon, rectal and childhood cancers are the result of recent successes in clinical trials. As a participant a patient has the opportunity to help further the cause for other cancer patients, and possibly be helped by the treatments they receive.
Participation in a clinical trial is voluntary. After enrollment in a clinical trial, a patient may ask to be taken off the trial. If the doctor monitoring the patient determines that the patient is not responding favorably to the treatment, he/she may advise that another treatment be initiated instead.
The National Cancer Institute's Clinical Trials web page contains extensive patient education information about clinical trials.
The booklet "Taking Part in Cancer Treatment Research Studies" is also available online.
Other Clinical Trials links:
National Cancer Institute Clinical Trial Search
For information on clinical trials offered by the Genesis Cancer Care Institute and Iowa Cancer Specialists, click on the Treatment Trial link at the top of this page, or please contact the research staff with any questions:
- The Genesis Cancer Care Institute: 563-421-1908
- Iowa Cancer Specialists: 563-421-1908