What Are Clinical Trials?
Clinical trials are an essential step in the development of treatment for various diseases and are necessary for improving the outcome for patients. Clinical trials are the only way to find out if a new treatment approach to a disease is better than the standard treatments currently used. Patients volunteering to take part in a trial are randomly assigned to either receiving the standard treatment or a different or experimental treatment. This is known as a randomised trial and is the most common way in which treatments are compared. This process (randomisation) ensures that the groups are similar in every way other than the fact that they receive different treatments. Any difference in outcome between the groups is then likely to be caused by the difference in the treatment and not by other differences between the groups. If an experimental treatment proves to be better than the standard treatment and does not cause unacceptable side-effects, it is recommended as the new standard treatment for future patients. This is how new treatments or approaches to treatment are introduced to patients.
The conduct of clinical trials is carefully regulated to ensure patients’ well-being is protected. Patients will only be able to participate in a trial if there is an open trial at that time, if they meet the eligibility criteria, and if their treating hospital is taking part. Parents, and when appropriate children, must understand the implications of taking part in a clinical trial and give written consent (agreement) to allow them to be enrolled on a trial. If a trial is available to your child your doctor will explain it in more detail and you will be given the necessary information to allow you to decide whether to take part or not. While on a clinical trial your child will be very closely monitored.
Please be advised that all the information you read here is not a replacement for the advice you will get from your consultant and their team.
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