Although cancer has a heavy impact on the Australian population
there are reasons to be optimistic about the future. The continuing
pace of research and medical advancements
means that developments in prevention and treatment can be channelled
from ‘the bench
to the bedside’ as quickly as possible.
In order to develop ways to combat cancer it is essential to first
understand how cancer
works. Faulty cells in the body cause cancer, so it is important
to discover how this cellular malfunction leads to the growth of
This research is helping scientists and doctors understand cell
growth, cell defences
against cancer-causing DNA toxins, immunological defence against
relationships between viruses and cancer and the genetic foundations
of the disease.
Using the knowledge obtained from the study of these phenomena,
scientists are able to
address the fundamental issues in cancer research and develop the
keys to combating and preventing cancer.
You can find out more about developments in cancer research by visiting the Westmead Millenium Institute web site www.wmi.usyd.edu.au.
is a Clinical Trial?
should I enter a Clinical Trial?
do I Participate in a Clinical Trial?
What is a Clinical
A clinical trial is a research study conducted
with patients who have been diagnosed with a
cancer or other major illness and generally involves testing of
new treatments or finding
ways of improving existing treatments. Clinical trials are conducted
all over the world in
most large hospitals in an attempt to improve treatment for many
The main objective of a clinical trial is to compare two or more
groups of subjects, using
two or more treatment options to determine the effectiveness of
a proposed drug or
Clinical trials are carefully and ethically designed to allow truthful
and precise collection and analysis of information to find out more
about a disease. Such trials help discover whether a promising new
treatment is safe and effective, as well as giving a better understanding
of the current standard treatment, in the hope of improving the
side effects experienced by many patients.
Why should I enter a Clinical Trial?
Types of Trials
Clinical trials are conducted in four phases before they can be
considered for registration and use.
trials involve a small number of patients and are designed to test
the safety and
dosage of a new drug and to evaluate side effects of various dosage
Phase II trials involve larger numbers
of patients and test the effectiveness of a treatment
given in a particular dose.
Phase III trials are full-scale controlled
examinations of new drugs or treatments and are designed to more
fully explore the potential benefits and risks of the treatment
under study. Often, the standard or current treatment is compared
to a newer and potentially better treatment. This trial is a randomised
trial, meaning the treatment is chosen at random- neither the patient
nor the doctor can decide which treatment the patient will receive.
This ensures an equal number of patients are allocated to each treatment
and removes any bias the doctor or patient may have to one treatment
Phase IV trials allow pharmaceutical
companies to monitor any adverse side effects on a
larger scale than Phase III studies and help clarify other uses
for the drugs, for example, treatment of another disease.
Patients take part in clinical trials for many reasons, usually with
the hope of direct treatment benefits for themselves. This might include
a greater chance of a cure, a longer time to live or better quality
of life. Sometimes patients want to contribute to research that will
help future sufferers of the disease.
Patients who participate in clinical trials, in which improved results
are seen, have the first
chance to benefit from these improved treatments.
How do I participate in
a Clinical Trial?
Before you consent to participate in a clinical trial, you will
be given an information sheet, which contains all the information
about the trial, including the risks and benefits. With any form
of treatment being assessed in a clinical trial, side effects can
be experienced and this is always balanced against the benefits
of treatment. You will also be given the opportunity to discuss
the trial with your treating doctor, who will be able to answer
If you agree to participate you will be asked to sign a consent
form, stating that you have read and understood the purpose of the
trial and the risks and benefits attached to it. You are free to
withdraw from the trial at any time. All the ethical and legal codes
that apply to medical practice are carefully followed in clinical
Current Clinical Trials Report
A core focus of the U.C.O. is clinical trial involvement and accrual. There are a number of trials that U.C.O. is currently actively involved in and you can find out more by visiting the website: www.cancertrials.com.au