Clinical trials are research investigations in which people volunteer to test new treatments, interventions or tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage various diseases or medical conditions.
A trial is a documented, and ethically approved process to compare one treatment with another to determine the best treatment.
Most clinical trials involve treatment, such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. Understanding the safety issues associated with the new treatment is key.
There are some studies which do not involve drugs or new treatments. These non-treatment trials may look at population-based or demographic information, looking for patterns or clues to causation of disease. Some look at quality of life issues or the role of supportive care in oncology services.
If you are offered participation in a clinical trial, you need to know that it is always your choice to be involved. You also need to know the alternatives to participation.
Your decision should be based on complete details about the trial including its aim, how it is being conducted, your responsibilities as a participant, and any potential risks or benefits to you.
This information will be made available to you along with a consent form. You should have adequate time to read and understand the information, and the opportunity to ask any questions about the trial with the investigator.
You can withdraw at any time without penalty. All clinical trials are reviewed, approved and overseen by an ethics committee.