Prostate cancer trials

If you have prostate cancer, getting involved in a clinical trial may offer several advantages.

Clinical trials help doctors find out if new treatments are safe, if they have any side effects, and if they are better than the options already available.

Trials are the best way to find out whether or not a new treatment is better than the current standard treatment you may be having.

Taking part in a clinical trial could be beneficial because of the close medical supervision you'll receive during and after testing.

"Patients do well in trials because they are much more closely observed," says Mike Kirby, a visiting professor at the Faculty of Health and Human Sciences, University of Hertfordshire.

"They are being offered state-of-the-art treatment and they will be carefully followed up."

While there's no guarantee of an improvement in your condition, taking a more active role may help you cope with your situation. Not only can a trial improve your prospects, you may also take satisfaction from being involved in research that could save future lives.

"In my experience patients quite like it," says Professor Kirby. "They like to feel they're contributing to new medical knowledge and putting something back into the NHS."

But trials are not without risk and inconvenience. Having more frequent testing can raise people's anxiety about their cancer.

There may be unexpected side effects from the treatment, especially if it is in the early stages of development.

If the trial is randomised, you won't get a choice about which treatment you have and you may be in the control group, which means taking the current standard treatment.

There are different types of trial. The main ones are:

Prevention trials

These involve drugs, diet, vitamins or other supplements that doctors believe may help lower your risk of developing a certain type of cancer.

Screening trials

Screening trials look at finding an effective test for the early detection of cancer. Detecting a cancer early on means treatment is more likely to be successful, but clinicians have to be sure they do no harm in the process.

Treatment trials

These trials look at the best way of treating a specific illness, such as prostate cancer. Different types of treatment are tested, including new drugs, new ways of giving treatment, new combinations of treatments, or new types of operation or intervention.

If you would like to take part in a clinical trial, you can ask your cancer specialist about local or national trials or use the internet links above to look up clinical trial databases.

Page last reviewed: 20/11/2014

Next review due: 20/11/2016


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