Clinical trials

I've always known that all medication is tested before approved for general use and I've also regularly seen advertisements for participants in medical research.  But I've never really thought about the importance and true impact of taking medication to aid a patients treatment and assist in medical research studies until my mum was offered the chance to participate in a clinical trial.

Our local Oncology hospital happens to be both an NHS trust and University hospital.  As such, the Oncology medical team have access to clinical trials and invite patients to participate where it is deemed suitable.  After diagnosis, the Oncology consultant discussed my Mother's treatment plan with us and invited her participation in a clinical trial that my Mother was suitable for.  It's an extremely daunting decision to have to make, much like playing Russian roulette, under already very stressful conditions.  It is though, an extremely interesting subject as without such participation, there will never be a cure for ovarian cancer and the number of people that suffer only ever increases.   It was not an easy decision and there is very little guidance about this online so I thought I'd provide some tips should you or someone you know be asked to make such a decision.

  1. Take your time. to make the decision,  Don't be rushed by the doctors or the need to start your treatment asap.  Your medical team will understand how much information there is to digest and give you sufficient time to review the information.
  2. Understand, research and ask questions about the clinical trial.  Find out as much information about the trial as possible by asking your medical team and searching online.  Ask yourself the following:
    • What's the purpose of the trial?
    • How many participants are invited.
    • What are the expected benefits?  an additional life expectancy, if relevant.  I know this is a particularly morbid question but bear in mind that the additional benefits may only be for example  months in which case you need to ask yourself does the side effects outweigh the additional tie?
    • What are the side effects?
    • How does this affect the remainder of your treatment.
    • Speak to friends and relatives about the clinical trial and get their opinions and advice.  It will help to make a decision if you have well rounded opinions.  
    • Own your treatment and take the opportunity to guide your doctors in how you wish to be treated
Finally, have no regrets in your decision.  Feel empowered by the fact that you had the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial and take control of your treatment.  

Best of luck.


p.s. my Mother was going to participate in the clinical trial but could not in the end as inclusion would have postponed the start of her chemotherapy. which was more important to her.


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