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If you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, you should ask your doctor about clinical trials. Here’s why:

  • Clinical trials are carefully conducted tests of new drugs and other therapies that must pass rigorous review and external oversight. When standard treatments have been exhausted, clinical trials provide the chance to explore other possibilities.
  • In an era of personalized medicine, clinical trials play a more precise role than ever. “We’re at the stage where we understand the genetic switches that cause cells to start behaving abnormally,” said Dr. Christopher Chitambar, a hematologist/oncologist at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW). “Can we design drugs to flip a switch that’s turned on or off? Clinical trials are the ultimate test for that.”
  • Most costs in a clinical trial are covered by research grants or funding.
  • More than 60 percent of children with cancer are treated with clinical trials. Among adult cancer patients, that number is less than 5 percent. Doctors link the higher survival rate in children – around 25 percent more – in part to innovations learned from enrolling patients in clinical trials over many years.
  • The decision to participate in or withdraw from a clinical trial is always completely the patient’s.

Clinical trials are critical in the quest to find new ways to fight cancer. Every therapy available today started in a clinical trial. At academic medical centers like the Medical College of Wisconsin, physicians are able to offer patients even more options and leading-edge care.