Most Americans Steer Clear of Clinical Trials, Unless in Critical Stage

'Laboratory tests'

A new study has found that just one-third of Americans would like to take part in a clinical trial before their disease reaches an advanced stage.

More than two-thirds of adult Americans would rather not take part in any clinical trial and their doctors recommend them to do it only if they reached a critical stage, a recent survey found.

Study authors believe that the two main obstacles in convincing people to enroll in a clinical trial are patient misconceptions of the studies and doctors’ reluctance in recommending them to their patients.

Scientists at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center explained that new drugs need to be tested in human trials before they get approved. Clinicians thus learn about possible side-effects and drug effectiveness.

But the survey revealed that most Americans do not feel very comfortable about testing out a new drug that was not approved. They don’t like the idea of being given a placebo either. But when they learn that their cohort won’t include any placebo groups their opinion slightly improves.

Dr. Paul Sabbatini, lead investigator involved in the survey, noted that cancer patients who do not consider clinical trials as a viable option in early stages miss an opportunity. Yet, patients are not the only ones to lose. Doctors and medical researchers are deprived of the opportunity of finding better treatments.

Dr. Sabbatini thinks that clinical trials are the best technique to date to discover new therapies that can eradicate cancer. He recommends cancer patients and their families to not shy away from these studies when cancer is in its early stages.

The latest survey involved 1,511 adult patients, and several doctors who recommend clinical trials to their patients as an alternative option.

Experts explained that clinical trials can test new, unapproved drugs but they can also focus on approved medications in an effort to seek new health benefits. This is how, a few years ago a treatment for osteoporosis was found to be useful in treating breast cancer patients with fewer side-effects than conventional therapies.

Cancer patients can ask their doctor’s opinion on the options they have if standard cancer therapies are too invasive or ineffective. Many clinicians will recommend a clinical trial, but those who won’t are either misinformed or concerned that they may lose their patients.

In order to take part in a trial, you’ll need a diagnosis and the disease should not be in the final stage. Trials differ based on their goals. Phase I trials seek to adjust dosage and check safety. Phase II trials assess patient response to doses in Phase I, if the drug was accepted. In Phase III, patients taking the drug are compared to a control group comprised of patients who take only a placebo.

Seventy percent of drugs make it from Phase I to Phase II, while just one-third make it to Phase III.

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