(BPT) - People participate in clinical trials for a variety of reasons. Some are healthy volunteers who want to contribute to moving science forward, and others are coping with an illness or disease and want to receive the newest treatment options and additional care from clinical staff. Yet hesitancy to participate remains as there are many misconceptions about clinical trials.
According to Gwen Nichols, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), a global leader in the fight against blood cancer, “Nothing should stand between you and your care.”
“Clinical trials give newly diagnosed patients access to state-of-the-art therapies and can provide a lifeline for others when standard-of-care treatment has failed,” says Dr. Nichols. “But we realize there are many reasons cancer patients do not seek out clinical trials including low awareness of them, fear and distrust of the medical system, costs and logistical challenges.”
Through its recently launched IMPACT (Influential Medicine Providing Access to Clinical Trials) research grants, LLS aims to improve diversity in clinical trials by promoting better access for underrepresented communities.
“Knowledge is power,” said Dr. Nichols. “To get the full benefit of research, we need clinical trials to reflect the diversity of the U.S. population.” Dr. Nichols helped us clear up the following myths:
Myth #1: I’ll be treated like a guinea pig.
Fact-check: Clinical trials are carefully designed research studies that put the health and safety of patients first. Before you agree to participate, you’ll be taken through the informed consent process. You’ll be able to gather information and ask questions and you have the right to have the consent thoroughly explained to you if you don’t understand something. Participation in a clinical trial is always up to you, and you can leave the study at any time.
Myth #2: Clinical trials are a last resort. I can only participate if I’ve run out of treatment options.
Fact-check: Clinical trials are for patients at all stages of their disease and treatment. By taking part, you’ll join a team of doctors and patients who share your desire to improve treatment for cancer and other diseases now and in the future.
Myth #3: I’ll get a placebo without knowing.
Fact-check: Many people are concerned about getting a placebo (an inactive pill, liquid or powder). The vast majority of cancer clinical trials do not use a placebo unless given along with an active drug. If a trial uses a placebo, you would be made aware through informed consent in advance of enrolling in the trial.
Myth #4: Being in a clinical trial will affect my family.
Fact-check: Talk to your doctor about what joining a clinical trial means for you and your loved ones. Levels of participation vary by trial. Some might require frequent trips to the hospital, and you might need childcare or time off from work. No matter what care you choose, there may be support services available to you and your loved ones through organizations like LLS.
Myth #5: Clinical trials are free.
Fact-check: The therapy that is being studied in the clinical trial is free, but patients are usually responsible for standard of care therapy, admission and transportation to hospitals or clinics, and other associated costs. Always consult with your doctor about your treatment options and costs before making any commitments.
LLS Clinical Trial Nurse Navigators, registered nurses with expertise in blood cancer, are available to personally assist all blood cancer patients and caregivers throughout the entire clinical-trial process. For information, patients can contact an LLS Information Specialist at (800) 955-4572, via live chat or email.