Benefits and Risks
What are the benefits and risks of participating in a clinical trial?
As you decide whether to join a clinical trial, it’s important to understand how your participation can help. Some benefits of participating in a clinical trial include:
- Early access to a potentially better treatment: The treatment you receive in a clinical trial may be better than existing, standard treatments.
- Expert medical attention: Doctors and care teams must closely monitor health-related changes in clinical trial participants. They are more alert to problems such as side effects. You may receive more one-on-one care and have more checkups.
- Free or low-cost care: The research company may offer the new treatment at no or low cost to you.
- Advancement of melanoma care: You can make a difference. What researchers learn from your experience can benefit you as well as future patients.
Although clinical trials can provide the latest, most advanced treatment, they are not without risk. Some risks include:
- Questionable treatment outcomes: The clinical trial treatment may not work as well as the existing, standard treatment.
- Side effects: You may experience more (or less) severe side effects than the standard treatment.
- Additional office visits: To measure the treatment’s effectiveness and monitor potential side effects, researchers and other physicians may need to see you more often for checkups, blood tests and biopsies.
- Additional expenses: Even if a research company covers medication costs, you may be responsible for co-pays for additional office visits and tests. Contact your health insurance company before you agree to a clinical trial to find out what expenses you must cover.
- Possibility of receiving placebo: In clinical trials for adjuvant cancer therapy, it is possible—although rare—that you may receive a placebo treatment. Most such trials compare a new treatment with the treatment used in the current standard of care.
It is important to remember that participation in clinical trials is 100 percent voluntary, and you may withdraw from a trial at any time for any reason. If you are not responding to an investigational treatment or if adverse reactions are severe you will discuss other treatment options with your doctor.
Read more about whether a clinical trial is right for you on our blog or join the conversation on the Melanoma > Exchange, our online community focused on melanoma research, clinical trials, and treatment.