Clinical trials are carried out on specific patient populations each day and as a result many advances have been made in the treatment of different conditions such as cancer. Those participating in clinical trials often choose to do so with the hope that it would lead to either an improvement in their own condition or in advances to help future generations.
Participation in Clinical Trials
If one is asked to consider participating in a clinical trial it is absolutely vital that one first fully understands the exact purpose of the trial and exactly what participants are required to do during the course of the trial. Never be afraid of asking doctors or researchers questions as this is the best way to make as informed a decision as possible.
After reading about the proposed trial it is well worth noting down key questions to take to any meetings as it is easy to go blank in appointments. As a general rule of thumb it is necessary to take some time to be totally sure that one feels comfortable about both the aims of the trial and the types of participation that will be required.
After receiving a consent form for the trial remember to read it through carefully and before signing ask any last minute questions or raise concerns which have arisen as a result. Also, if at any time during the clinical trial one does not wish to continue then one is able to stop regardless of whether it is a few days or months from completion.
Different Types of Clinical Trials
There are three main types of clinical trials which include phase one, two and three with each phase linked together. Phase One trials will typically involve the initial study of how high a dose of medication may be safely given and the manner in which it is metabolized by the body. At this stage there are usually between 20 to 50 volunteers participating in the clinical trial and if stage one is successful then phase two will begin. In contrast to stage one, this stage will normally require several hundred volunteers to test effectiveness of the medication in terms of specific indications or uses.
Phase three trials basically compare the level of effectiveness of a new treatment against the standard form of treatment. In cases where no standard treatment exists, some patients may be given a placebo and this is known as the control group. Those patients on the new medication are known as the test or study group and usually the patient and the doctor are unaware of which treatment is being provided; this is referred to as randomized double-blind controlled trials. At this stage anywhere up to several thousand volunteers may be needed in the study.
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As highlighted above, clinical trials have been used for many years with the aim of creating advances in medical treatment. Before participating in a trial it is important to take time to consider exactly what is involved and whether it is something that one feels able to follow. At any time during clinical trials participants may decide to discontinue.