Clinical Trials FAQ

What is a Cancer Clinical Trial?

A Clinical Trial is designed to answer scientific questions and to find new and better ways to prevent, diagnose or treat cancer patients. At Edward-Elmhurst Health, a research nurse navigator is available to assist all patients through every step — from informed consent, to treatment, to follow-up appointments.

What are the different types of Clinical Trials?

Phase I trials: This is the first step in testing a new treatment in humans. These studies evaluate how safe a new drug is and at what dose. Only a small number of patients participate in these types of trials.

Phase II trials: These trials test whether a new treatment has an anticancer effect and whether it works against a certain type of cancer. These type of trials include fewer than 100 patients.

Phase III trials: These studies compare a new treatment with the standard treatment. Patients are randomly assigned to the standard group or the new treatment group, usually by a computer. This method, called randomization, helps to avoid bias. In most cases, studies move into phase III only after a treatment seems to work in phases I and II. Phase III trials can include hundreds and even thousands of people

Phase IV trials: After a treatment has been FDA approved and is being marketed, it is studied in a phase IV trial to evaluate side effects that may have not been seen in phase III trials. Thousands of people are involved in phase IV trials.

What are the Benefits of participating in a Clinical Trial?

  • Patients have access to promising new treatments that are not offered outside the clinical trial setting. 
  • The treatment being studied may be more effective than the standard treatment. 
  • Patients may be the first to benefit from a new treatment.
  • Helping others with the same condition by contributing to cancer research
  • Having access to treatment that is not otherwise available, which might be safer or more effective than current treatment options
  • Feeling that you have more control over your situation and are taking a more active role in your health care