The Different Phases of Clinical Trials

Cancer clinical trials which are also called clinical studies are the processes to find new ways of preventing and diagnosing cancer. All the standard treatments available today have once been tested in clinical trials. Physicians at Hunterdon Hematology Oncology, LLC provide answers to patients’ common questions about participating in clinical trials in Flemington.

What to expect in a clinical trial

When patients volunteer to be part of a clinical trial, they are taking part in the research. On the one hand, they have the opportunity to gain access to a new therapy, a potential treatment that they might not otherwise have access to for themselves in the hopes of personal gain. On the other hand, being part of a clinical trial contributes knowledge that will help future cancer patients and help physicians develop new standards for the future.

The phases of clinical trials

Before a drug is approved, it must go through clinical trials. However, physicians will first extensively test the drug before it is ready for use. As you talk about clinical trials with your doctor, you may hear them speak of them in terms of phases. Each phase of clinical trials serves a different purpose. To better understand the effectiveness and side effects that come with the use of a specific drug, it is crucial that each phase lasts longer and that more patients are involved. A prescription must pass all clinical trial stages before it is approved and passed on to the next phase. The three different steps involved in cancer clinical trials include:

  • Phase I

A phase I clinical trial is the first time a drug or a combination of drugs is being used in humans. A Phase I study aims to determine the optimal dose and schedule and determine the side effects of new treatments.

  • Phase II

A phase II clinical trial treats a more homogeneous patient population that treats people with a particular disease or specific characteristics of their tumor to find out initially if the treatment works against your particular type of tumor.

  • Phase III

When discussing a phase III clinical trial, you may hear the term randomization because phase III studies assign patients to new treatments that differ from standard therapy. A computer program will often make that assignment. When you choose to participate in a phase III study, you are told beforehand what the possibilities are and the treatment assignments. These assignments are often called randomized clinical trials, and they are the final stage in the development of a new treatment before it seeks approval by the FDA. In phase III clinical trials, hundreds and sometimes thousands of patients are treated to show that the new treatment is better than the standard.

Clinical trials represent the highest quality cancer care physicians can provide; therefore, all patients should discuss clinical trials with their doctors. Contact Hunterdon Hematology Oncology, LLC to receive excellent patient-oriented clinical trial information.