Research - clinical trials for secondary bone cancer
Cancer research trials are carried out to try to find new and better treatments for cancer. Trials that are carried out on patients are known as clinical trials. Clinical trials may be carried out to:
test new treatments, such as new chemotherapy drugs, surgery, hormonal therapies or biological therapies
look at new combinations of existing treatments, or change the way they are given, to make them more effective or to reduce side effects
compare the effectiveness of drugs used to control symptoms
find out how the treatments work
see which treatments are the most cost-effective.
Trials are the only reliable way to find out if a different operation, type of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or other treatment is better than what is already available.
Taking part in a trial
You may be asked to take part in a treatment research trial. There can be many benefits in doing this. Trials help to improve knowledge about cancer and develop new treatments. You will also be carefully monitored during and after the study. Usually, several hospitals around the country take part in these trials. Itís important to bear in mind that some treatments that look promising at first are often later found not to be as good as existing treatments, or to have side effects that outweigh the benefits.
If you decide not to take part in a trial your decision will be respected and you do not have to give a reason. There will be no change in the way that you are treated by the hospital staff and you will be offered the standard treatment for your situation.
Blood and tumour samples
Many blood samples and tumour biopsies may be taken to help make the right diagnosis. You may be asked for your permission to use some of your samples for research into cancer. If you are taking part in a trial you may also be asked to give other samples which may be frozen and stored for future use, when new research techniques become available. These samples will have your name removed from them so you canít be identified.
The research may be carried out at the hospital where you are treated, or it may be at another hospital. This type of research takes a long time, and results may not be available for many years. The samples will, however, be used to increase knowledge about the causes of cancer and its treatment. and will hopefully improve the outlook for future patients.
There are several research trials in progress. Men who have prostate cancer that has spread to the bones may be asked to take part in a trial called the RIB trial. This trial is comparing radiotherapy with a bisphosphonate called ibandronate. The aim of the trial is to see which treatment is better at controlling pain caused by secondary bone cancer.
Another trial, called the SC20 trial, is looking to see if a second course of radiotherapy can help to control pain that has come back or hasnít been relieved by an initial course of radiotherapy. The trial may close at the end of 2008 or during 2009.
You can talk to your doctor about any trials that you think may be appropriate for you.