Clinical Trial Frequently Asked Questions

Should I join a clinical trial?

Deciding to join a clinical trial can be a big decision for any cancer patient, especially when making many treatment decisions. It’s important to realize that nearly all cancer therapies available today resulted from thousands of cancer patients like yourself participating in past clinical trials.

What is a clinical trial exactly?

A clinical trial is a scientific study in which new treatments – drugs, diagnostic procedures, and other therapies – are tested in patients to determine if they are safe and effective. In most trials, people receive either today's best available care or a new treatment that is hoped to be better. Such trials help scientists answer questions about new cancer therapies, including what diseases they should be used for, what doses are most effective, and which patients can benefit most.

Why should I think about participating?

Often, the best way to control or cure your cancer is with an already approved medicine or treatment. However, in some circumstances, a clinical trial can be a better choice, offering hope through treatments otherwise not available to you.

Is a clinical trial right for me?

Your physician at Baptist will make a recommendation based on your particular situation. He will consider your age, gender, cancer type and stage, and the treatments already received to see if you’re qualified.

I wonder about the risks.

Before any trial begins, it must be approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB), which includes the finest researchers and physicians and members of the general public. The IRB considers whether proposed studies are safe and well planned, if they ultimately advance patient care, and if safeguards are built in. In all studies, your health will be closely monitored during the course of the trial.

Potential risks may be more doctors’ visits, phone calls, treatments, complicated treatment regimen, the possibility of the treatment not working for you, and serious side effects. Talk with your doctor about potential risks.

What are the benefits?

Potential benefits include access to new drugs and other treatments while helping advance cancer treatments for future patients.

Do I have to pay to be in a clinical trial?

In most cases, the costs related to treating your cancer is considered to be routine or usual care (meaning you would receive this care whether or not you are in a clinical trial). This includes office visits and/or hospitalizations, biopsies or other tests to diagnose your cancer, standard cancer treatments (chemotherapy or radiation), treatments to reduce or eliminate symptoms of cancer or side effects from treatments, lab tests, x-rays or other imaging tests, or other procedures you receive related to your cancer. The charges for routine or usual care are billed to you or your insurance company.

The study sponsor will pay for treatments or tests that are being done solely for research purposes. These could include treatments or drugs that are experimental (not yet approved by the FDA for your diagnosis), special test(s) or procedures that you would not normally have as part of your cancer care, the costs associated with conducting the clinical trial, such as data collection and management, and organizing and running the trial.

Before you join a clinical trial, you will receive an informed consent document that will explain what treatment(s) or test the study may cover. In addition, the research coordinator will review the expected research costs with you.

How do I know if I’m eligible to join a clinical trial?

All clinical trials have guidelines that explain who can participate. These are called eligibility criteria. The factors that allow you to participate in a clinical trial can include age, gender, the type and stage of your disease, previous treatment history, and other medical conditions. Following eligibility criteria helps us keep you safe and ensures that researchers learn the information they need.

Patients can find some of the eligibility criteria on the clinical trials listing page. If you have found a clinical trial that you think you want to join, talk to your doctor to see if you are eligible to take part. Please keep in mind that just because you may meet some of the criteria listed, this does not mean that you will be able to enroll into the trial. More screening, tests, or labs may need to be completed before determining your eligibility.

At what point during my treatment can I join a clinical trial?

Patients can start to consider a clinical trial from the very start of their treatment and onward and determine if there is a trial that is right for them.

Can I quit a clinical trial?

Participating in a clinical trial is completely voluntary. Patients can choose to quit a clinical trial at any time and for any reason. Discuss your situation with your doctor.

Are the trials at Baptist only for people with advanced cancer who are not responding to treatment?

No. There are trials for people at all stages, even for preventing and diagnosing cancer.

Does Baptist Cancer Center offer clinical trials for my type of cancer?

Baptist Cancer Center currently offers trials for breast, lung, gastrointestinal (GI), and blood and bone marrow cancers. We are working to provide trials for other types of cancers and will inform patients when they are available.

What are the advantages to participating at Baptist?

For some patients, a clinical trial is the best treatment option and care path. Baptist Cancer Center has formed collaborations with various institutions, such as Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, in order to provide access to leading edge trials and the finest supportive care, education, and prevention programs.

Baptist Cancer Center is also recognized as a Minority/Underserved Community Site by the National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), and thus offers a portfolio of trials that are available to underserved and rural populations who otherwise would not have access to this type of care.

Where does Baptist Cancer Center offer clinical trials?

Baptist Cancer Center currently offers trials at the locations in Memphis, Collierville, and Bartlett, TN, Southaven, Oxford, New Albany, Grenada, and Columbus, MS, and Jonesboro, AR. Baptist Cancer Center is also affiliated with a site at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN. Contact your physician for questions about clinical trials that are offered at your treatment facility.

Ask your doctor if a clinical trial might be just what you need.