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Doctor’s Advice: What You Need to Know About Clinical Trials

Cancer TreatmentIf you have been diagnosed with cancer you probably have thought about joining a clinical trial. But if you’re like most patients, you have questions. We talked with oncologist Jame Abraham, MD, about common inquiries doctors of all specialties find themselves addressing about clinical trials:

Q: Am I going to get just a sugar pill?
A: In clinical trials, no patient will be given a sugar pill when there is a proven effective treatment. When there is no effective standard treatment for patients in very advanced stages, trials may be designed with placebo only. But, in general, placebo-controlled trials will include a standard treatment option. If there is a placebo, that will be discussed with you up front, and you should ask your doctor about the pros and cons of that approach.

Q: Who will pay for my expenses related to the trial I’m joining?
A: That’s an important question. The sponsor of the trial will pay for most trial-related expenses. You should ask the research team that question upfront; they can clarify. Typically, the insurance company covers the standard-care aspect of the clinical trial; however, this can vary among insurance plans and states. We encourage you to inquire, as participating in clinical trials should not cause a patient extra financial burden.

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