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The Importance of Clinical Trials in Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer-clinical trials-ocra-clinical trial finder
Ovarian cancer-clinical trials-ocra-clinical trial finder

Clinical trials have a unique place in healthcare — they are fundamental to the discovery of new and better therapies in the fight against cancer, and they offer unmatched access to potentially cutting-edge care to individual patients.

Audra Moran

President & CEO, Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance

For the individual, clinical trials have the potential to succeed where other treatments have failed — and at the same time, they accelerate scientific progress for all.

Through participation in a clinical trial, patients have the chance to receive the latest and most innovative investigational medicines that experts think might improve their cancer prognosis, while simultaneously helping scientists create new treatments that could benefit future cancer patients.

This is why as the world’s largest ovarian cancer advocacy and research organization, Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (OCRA) strongly recommends anyone diagnosed with ovarian cancer to ask their doctor about clinical trials.

Below are answers to some of the questions we often receive about clinical trials:

What is a clinical trial?

A clinical trial is a highly controlled biomedical research study that aims to test the safety and effectiveness of new treatments, diagnostics, and methods of screening and prevention. Once an experimental treatment reaches the clinical trial stage, it has already gone through a lengthy, rigorous scientific review. Clinical trials are all strictly regulated for eligibility and safety.

All drugs available to treat cancer today are the result of a clinical trial. Yet, while about 20% of cancer patients would be eligible to participate in clinical trials, only 3% of U.S. adults with cancer do.

Some may think of clinical trials as a “last resort”— an option to explore only after other treatments have failed — but this isn’t the case at all. Many trials are available for patients earlier in their fight against the disease.

Are clinical trials safe?

Clinical trial participants will always receive treatment when it is necessary; nobody who should be receiving treatment would get a placebo. Frequently, people receive standard of care treatment compared with an experimental therapy, or sometimes the combination of standard of care treatment together with an experimental agent.

New cancer treatments are carefully assessed for safety in Phase 1 trials before advancing to larger studies.

Who conducts clinical trials?

Every clinical trial has a sponsor that oversees the conduct of the trial. The National Cancer Institute and other parts of the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense sponsor and conduct ovarian cancer clinical trials. In addition, entities such as academic medical centers and pharmaceutical and biotech companies sponsor clinical trials.

Some other important things to know about clinical trials:

  • The study is always voluntary, and a patient can withdraw at any time.
  • The trial is monitored by the sponsor.
  • Travel and other costs may be covered, but talk to your doctor to understand what costs your insurance will cover.
  • Patients will be made aware if anyone in the trial has had a bad side effect.
  • Patients are closely monitored by their healthcare professionals.

How can I find a clinical trial?

Patients should speak to their doctors to see if there are trials that may be right for them. OCRA has a Clinical Trial Finder that is a one-stop service to find information on current clinical trials for ovarian cancer and other gynecologic cancers in the United States and Canada.

Search online or connect with a real person on the phone to guide your search. You’ll receive a personalized list of available clinical trials specific to your diagnosis, treatment history, and location, and get updates when new studies open that match your profile.

Before you can join a clinical trial, your eligibility to participate must be determined. Inclusion and exclusion criteria are used so that patient safety is maintained, particular research questions can be answered, and credible results are obtained. Your age, health, previous medication history, and type and stage of ovarian cancer are factors used to determine your eligibility.

Clinical trials offer two invaluable benefits: for the individual, they have the potential to succeed where other treatments have failed — and at the same time, they accelerate scientific progress for all.

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