What is a clinical trial?
A clinical trial is a research study, usually designed to assess the safety and efficacy of a new drug or therapy. Clinical trials may also be used to test new ways to diagnose or prevent disease. Clinical trials help to advance medicine and, sometimes, they direct benefit the participants – for example, by providing early access to a promising new drug.
Why would I want to participate in a clinical trial?
Joining a clinical trial has potential benefits and risks. Benefits may include having access to a new and potentially more effective therapy that is not yet generally available; helping doctors learn more about GIST may help other patients in the future. However, the new therapy in the trial may not be better or even as good as current treatments; it may have undesirable side effects; and it may not work for you. Additionally, participating in a trial may involve extra appointments, tests, and costs.
How can I find out about ongoing trials?
There are several ongoing and planned clinical trials involving the treatment of GIST. Listings of clinical trials taking place in Canada and the United States can be found on various online databases. Since clinical trials may be funded by a variety of organizations (e.g. governments, drug companies, hospitals, etc.), each database may contain different listings, and you may need to search more than one. Try searching for both “GIST” and “Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor” to obtain the most results. The following are some major databases:
- National Cancer Institute-Supported Clinical Trials –https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/clinical-trials/search
- Health Canada Clinical Trials Database – https://health-products.canada.ca/ctdb-bdec/newSearch-nouvelleRecherche.do
- S. National Institute of Health Clinical Trials – https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/search
- Cancer View Canadian Clinical Trials – http://www.canadiancancertrials.ca/
How can I get into a clinical trial?
If you have found a clinical trial that you are interested in joining, speak to physician about it. Life Raft Group Canada (contact us) can help answer any questions you may have, but only your physician can refer you to a trial. It is recommended that you print out the clinical trial listing and bring it with you to the appointment. Your physician can help review details about the study, risks and benefits, and whether you may be eligible. Some common eligibility criteria include:
- Having a specific type (or stage) of cancer: some clinical trials are specifically designed to test therapies for GIST; other trials may be recruiting patients with a range of cancers, including GIST;
- Having received (or not having received) a certain kind of therapy in the past;
- Having specific genetic changes in your tumor;
- Being in a specific age group;
- Medical history;
- Current health status.
If it is determined that you meet the eligibility criteria and you decide to apply for the trial, your physician will assist you with the process.
Please note that some trials are international in scope, while others are only conducted in certain countries. Sometimes, Canadian patients have travelled to the USA to get access to a trial.
Who can I talk to further about clinical trials?
Please contact us for more information about GIST clinical trials.