Coastal Radiation Oncology Medical Group
world-class cancer care has a local address.

Frequently Asked Questions

All About Radiation Treatment Clinical Trials

Q. What is a clinical trial?

A. A clinical trial is a study that is looking for better ways to treat and cure cancer. Every cancer treatment that we offer patients today comes from the results of clinical trials done in the past. It is the safest and most thorough way to look for improvements in the way we treat patients.

A trial is created when investigators ask a scientific question looking for an improved way to treat cancer. They are looking for volunteers to agree to participate and it is their (and our) goal that the treatment will not only be beneficial to you, but also help us gain knowledge in order to better treat patients in the future.

Q. What are the different types of trials?

A. There are Phase I, II, and III trials.

Phase I trial is the first step. It is looking to answer how a new treatment should be given and what dose is safe. Usually, a small number of people are entered into a Phase I trial.

Next, a Phase II trial builds on the knowledge we have gained and looks at how well the new treatment works for treating a particular cancer. Typically, Phase II trials enroll more patients than a Phase I trial.

Finally, a Phase III trial seeks to compare this new treatment to the current standard approach. The goal is to determine whether this new type of treatment is an improvement from the way we treat a certain cancer currently. A Phase III trial seeks to enroll hundreds of patients. When a patient is enrolled, they are assigned either to be treated with the new treatment or with the standard treatment.

Q. What are the risks and benefits of being in a trial?

A. This is one of the most commonly asked questions and is one that you should discuss with your doctor so that you get answers that are related to the trial you are being asked to consider.

In general, the benefits include:
  • Being closely monitored not only by your doctor, but by some of the national leaders in the field
  • A chance to provide a valuable contribution to the care of patients with cancer
  • A chance to be one of the first people to benefit from a new approach to treatment

In general, the risks include:
  • The new treatment may be less effective than the current approach
  • The new approach may have side effects that are still being investigated
  • Even if the treatment has shown a benefit in others, it may not for you

Q. If I choose not to be on the trial, can I get the same treatment?

A. In general, yes. The main difference is that the results of your treatment will not be collected and submitted to the trial.

Q. Does being on a trial affect the quality of the care I will receive?
A. Not at all. Whether or not you participate in a trial, we are dedicated to giving you the same quality care.

Q. If I agree to be on a trial, can I change my mind at a later date?

A. Yes and we will respect your wishes. We would talk to you to make sure that there is not any confusion about the trial and follow your decision.

Q. If I choose not to be on a trial, but then want to enter it later, is it too late?

A. Once a treatment has begun, it is difficult to enroll you in that trial. Usually, the investigators need to review your information before treatment begins and complete the enrollment process. After you start treatment, it is harder to get into the trial. However, we can still plan to treat you as if you were enrolled.

Q. Where can I get more information?

A. Each trial has a website that gives patients more information about the trial. In addition, your doctor will provide you with printed information about the trial and commonly asked questions.

To learn more about clinical trials in general as well as what it means to be in a trial, you can visit: