If you have melanoma, you may have the chance to participate in a clinical trial. Clinical trials evaluate new therapies, improve cancer care and patient quality of life, or prevent the development of cancer itself. These studies are responsible for most of the advances in cancer treatment, prevention, and diagnosis to date.
The search for effective cancer treatments often begins with basic research in the laboratory and studies with animals. If the results are positive, then research can be done with patients. Researchers carefully study these new treatments to prove that they are safe and effective with a certain number of patients. Once proven, the new treatments can be made widely available.
Clinical trials always have some uncertainty because they are unproven treatments. There is sometimes no way to know in advance whether a new treatment will work in a human patient, despite promising findings in test tubes or in experimental animals with cancer. However, if a treatment does prove to be effective, trial participants may be among the first to benefit.
If you are part of a clinical trial, you will receive the same level of care from doctors and nurses as any other patient. The only difference is that you may have more frequent or detailed tests and examinations to evaluate your progress.