The goal of clinical trials for patients with lung cancer is to improve screening procedures, perfect the methods of diagnosis (so that the condition can be detected and therefore treated as early as possible), and develop the most effective treatment options possible.
Types of Lung Cancer Clinical Trials
Because of the disease’s aggressive nature and the high population of patients, lung cancer is among the most widely studied forms of the illness. Most clinical trials focus on one of 4 categories:
- Treatment: This can include new medications, therapies, breathing treatments, or a combination of options
- Prevention: Patients who do not have lung cancer would participate in this type of trial, which would focus on new methods of preventing the illness. These trials could include the impact of the patient’s environment, personal habits (such as smoking), or other factors
- Screening: Doctors would study new methods of diagnosing lung cancer as early as possible.
- Quality of Life: Researchers would study how to best care for the patient throughout the course of their illness, treatment, and recovery
Benefits and Risks of Participating in a Clinical Trial
Many lung cancer patients face a difficult prognosis and limited life expectancy, but participating in a clinical trial and being part of new medications and therapies can offer hope for recovery and a better quality of life. Doctors and researchers test the medication or procedure extensively in the lab or on animals prior to bringing human patients into the trial, so most of the background research is already complete. The patient is simply the test subject to see whether or not the medication or procedure is effective; if not, the researchers can do further study on the side effects that materialized over the course of the trial.
Participating in a clinical trial has other benefits
- Testing new medications and procedures that can prolong the life of lung cancer patients
- The treatment being studied may be more effective than the patient’s current course of treatment
- The patient’s participation can help future generations
- Patients should also be aware of the potential risks of participating in a clinical trial:
- They may have a serious reaction (such as an allergy or other physical side effect) to the medication being studied
- The treatment or procedure may not be more effective than the patient’s current course of treatment
- The trial’s outcome may be different than the researchers had predicted