Clinical Trials and Lung Cancer: Is it the right decision for you?

(May 28, 2014)

Clinical trials contribute to advances in lung cancer and may be a good option for certain people facing lung cancer. Unfortunately, lung cancer clinical trial enrollment rates are very low. Why is this? One reason is that people are simply unaware of trials that are available. Others may be nervous about clinical trials and don’t know the right questions to ask. Or they may be waiting for their doctor to bring it up. Lung cancer clinical trials are often misunderstood by the public. Many people think that enrolling in a clinical trial means they risk not getting any treatment or just being a “guinea pig”, neither of which are true. Lung cancer clinical trials are carefully monitored research studies. People who take part in clinical trials for lung cancer receive up-to-date care from experts.

The first step in deciding whether a clinical trial is right for you, or someone you love, is to better understand what lung cancer clinical trials are, and the value they can bring to confronting the disease.

What exactly is a lung cancer clinical trial? Lung cancer clinical trials test how well new medical approaches work in patients. Each study answers scientific questions and tries to find better ways to prevent, screen for, diagnose or treat lung cancer. People who take part in clinical trials for lung cancer not only receive up-to-date care from experts, they contribute to advances in fighting lung cancer. Participants are usually randomized into two groups: the group that receives the treatment being tested or the group that receives the best-known standard of care. Either way, participants work closely with their care team at all times.

As one can imagine, thinking about lung cancer treatment can be overwhelming and confusing. Each time a person with lung cancer faces a treatment decision, it is important to explore all options, including clinical trials. The first step in this process is empowering patients through knowledge to have meaningful discussions with their care team.

The American Lung Association recently released a new addition to the Interactive Library on the comprehensive lung cancer website, Facing Lung Cancer: Support from Day One. The interactive clinical trials infographic and checklist walk patients through what to expect from a clinical trial, how to find a trial and topics they should cover with their doctor when discussing clinical trials. The checklist is available to print - perfect for taking to doctors’ appointments - and is also available in Spanish.

Without clinical trials, lung cancer treatment would remain static and not progress. Enrollment in clinical trials is imperative to the development of life-saving medical advances. And for the patient, they offer the possibility of receiving cutting-edge treatment and access to high-quality care. Every patient should have the knowledge and confidence to make the decision about whether a clinical trial is right for them. Tools like those on Facing Lung Cancer empower patients to do just that.

For more information and to view the clinical trials infographic visit: http://www.mylungcancersupport.org/clinicaltrials.