Learning About New Cancer Treatments

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TOPICS

What does this mean to you?

After going over what all of these things mean, here are some questions about new treatments you will want answered:

  • Was the new treatment tested in the lab (on cells in a dish, called in vitro), in animals, or in humans (in vivo)?
  • Who did the study? Was it done at a reputable cancer treatment center?
  • Are there other studies that were done before that support this outcome?
  • If the study was done in humans, how many were involved? How long were they followed?
  • Was there a control group (people who got standard treatment)?
  • Were similar people chosen at random to get either the standard treatment or the new treatment (randomized)?
  • Was the study blinded (were the patients and/or doctors kept from knowing who got which treatment while the patient was being watched for the effects of the treatment)?
  • Was there a difference in outcome between the group taking standard treatment and the group taking the new treatment?
  • Was the difference in outcome measured in survival, recurrence, symptoms, or some other marker?
  • Was the study published in a respected, peer-reviewed journal, or was it presented at a conference or sent out in a press release?
  • Is the treatment still in clinical trials in humans or has it been approved by the FDA?
  • If the treatment hasn’t been approved, is it available through expanded access or compassionate use? (Compassionate drug use is when seriously ill patients use a new, unapproved drug when no other treatments are available. Call us to learn more about this.)
  • Is the treatment likely to be harmful? What’s known about side effects?

Last Medical Review: 09/04/2012
Last Revised: 09/04/2012