What Is a Clinical Trial?
A clinical trial (or clinical research) is a research study to evaluate a new drug or treatment. Carefully conducted clinical trials are the fastest and safest way to find treatments that work in people and ways to improve health. All of today's standard cancer treatments were first shown to be effective in clinical trials. New and better treatments for cancer will be discovered only through the continued support of patients who participate in clinical trials.
Before a new treatment is tested with patients, it is carefully studied for several years in the laboratory and tested for safety. This research identifies the new methods most likely to succeed and, as much as possible, shows how to use them safely and effectively. Then, clinical trials undergo a rigorous approval process both by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and by two separate committees of Vanderbilt physicians. Although there is always a possibility that a new treatment will be disappointing, the researchers and physicians who approve a study have reason to believe that it will be as good as, or better than, current treatments.
The Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center has a long history of excellence in conducting clinical research and clinical trials. Through research and clinical trials, we have helped to advance the treatment of a number of cancers. We take great care to insure both scientific integrity and ethical conduct in all clinical trials.