In this final blog post about cancer clinical trials, we’ll discuss what questions you should ask yourself before enrolling in a clinical trial. Even if you have all the information you need about the trial, are eligible for the trial, and have the finances sorted out, taking the time to tap into your personal motivations and beliefs can help you finalize your decisions. 

Questions to ask yourself

Here are a few questions to ponder before enrolling. As you go through the questions below, consider your gut feel on how to proceed – and trust your instinct.

  • Why do I want to take part in this clinical trials?
  • What are my goals and expectations? How realistic are these?
  • How sure are my doctors about what my future looks like if I a) decide to participate or b) decide not to participate?
  • What are my other options? If the clinical trial is plan A, do I have a plan B,  and a plan C? Have I explored these as well as this clinical trial option?
  • Have I considered the risk:benefit ratio?
  • Have I considered factors such as travel, time, money, and how this fits in with my life and family?
  • Will my participation in this trial support my well-being?
  • Will I be able to do the things that give meaning to my life while I am on this trial?
  • How does this trial support not only my health (body) but also my mind and spirit?

The risk:benefit ratio is worth exploring in depth. Every clinical trial offers unique opportunities and risks but there are also some commonalities between trials.

Potential benefits:

  • You might help others in the future by participating in the trial.
  • The trial will give you access to a treatment that is not available otherwise and it might be safer or more efficacious than other treatments.
  • By participating in the trial, you gain some control over your situation and feel empowered.
  • By participating in the trial, you might well receive better and more attention from the healthcare team as they monitor your progress and side effects.
  • The funding might be of benefit to your situation.

Potential risks:

  • The trial treatment might have unknown side effects or risks that could be worse than existing treatments. While this applies to all trials, it is particularly so in early phase trials.
  • As with all treatments, this new treatment might not work for you, even if it works and has worked for others.
  • There might be additional inconveniences associated with being on a trial such as traveling or more frequent testing and monitoring.
  • If you are in a randomized trial, you have no choice about which treatment you will get and you might not get the new treatment. Additionally, if the study is “blind,” you might not know which treatment you are on throughout the study.
  • Financial implications might be significant.

I know that we have covered a lot in this blog mini-series and if you are considering a trial, I’m sure you mind is buzzing. There is rarely a need to rush the decision however, so take your time and talk it through with your loved ones. The best gauge is usually your gut feel. How does it feel within you? Does it fit in with your beliefs, values, and way of life? Trust those feelings and you will make the right decision for you at this time. 

I hope you have found this mini-series useful and informative. Please add your experiences of considering a trial or participating in a trial in the comments section of this blog, as it could well help others too.

If we can help you in any way, either with specific questions or talking it through, don’t hesitate to get in touch. See our Contact Us page. 

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