Clinical trials are research studies that involve patients. Through clinical trials, providers try to find new ways to improve treatments and the quality of life for people with cancer. These advances are possible with the invaluable information gathered during a clinical trial.
What are clinical trials?
A clinical trial is a research study that helps scientists and doctors discover better ways to treat cancer. In a clinical trial, people try new treatments focusing on a certain tumor type. Researchers learn how well the experimental treatment works. For some patients, access to new cancer-fighting drugs and therapies offer hope when standard treatments have not worked. With clinical trials, patients receive:
Extra support and attention as they undergo new treatments
The chance to be helped by a brand-new treatment that otherwise is not offered
The opportunity to help doctors and scientists fighting cancer to learn more about the disease and how best to treat it.
Cancer patients across Maine and the Mount Washington Valley of New Hampshire have access to more advanced clinical trials in their home communities, thanks to a major federal research grant awarded to the MaineHealth Cancer Care Network in 2019.
The MaineHealth Cancer Care Network was awarded a grant by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), as a member of the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), to implement a new cancer research program that aims to reach more Mainers in their own cities and towns, ensuring they have access to the best possible patient care. Patients are more comfortable being treated closer to their friends and family.
The six-year, $5.1 million NCORP award is the single largest grant ever extended by the NCI for clinical cancer research and cancer clinical trials in the state of Maine. Through this funding, MaineHealth Cancer Care Network Lifespan Program was established and designed to bring the latest research in cancer prevention, cancer treatment and cancer care delivery to Mainers. This is the only oncology program in Northern New England to enroll patients in clinical trials at every stage of the cancer continuum, from prevention to survival.
If you are thinking about joining a clinical trial, talk to your doctor first. Get as much information as you can about the clinical research and available clinical trials. Because the treatment is new, researchers may not know fully the safety and effectiveness of a new drug, device or medical therapy. Experimental treatments may not work as well as standard treatments you would have had if you were not participating in a clinical trial. Clinical trial participants may also experience side effects. In many instances, the side effects are no greater in a clinical trial than they would be in standard therapy.
Targeting Therapy through Clinical Trial Research
For some patients, access to new cancer-fighting drugs and therapies offer hope when standard treatments have not worked.