In many ways, being in a clinical trial is similar to receiving standard treatment. There are regular visits, blood tests, scans, and a cancer drug – or several – are given on a set schedule. Side effects are monitored and adjustments are made to minimize them. There are some differences. As much as cancer treatment programs tend to be fairly rigid and structured, clinical trials are even more so. Everything that happens follows a precise recipe. There may be additional tests or surveys to fill out that would not be a part of standard care. Some of these may include much more extensive monitoring – for example serial blood draws to measure drug levels in detail during a 24 or 48 hour period. It is also likely that less is known about the drug or drug regimen that is being tested than standard care. Outcomes in cancer treatment are never certain, but participating in a clinical trial involves a greater degree of the unknown.
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(c) 2012 Tom Beer and Larry Axmaker