While a clinical trial is a good choice for some people, this treatment option has both possible benefits and drawbacks to taking part in a melanoma clinical trial and these may vary, depending on the trial. If you do find a suitable trial, think about the possible benefits and drawbacks and discuss these with your healthcare provider. This will help you to decide if the trial is right for you.

Possible Benefits

Clinical trials offer high-quality cancer care. If you are in a study and do not receive the new treatment being tested, you will receive the best standard treatment. This may be as good as, or better than, the new approach. If a new treatment approach is proven to work and you are taking it, you may be among the first to benefit. By looking at the pros and cons of clinical trials and your other treatment choices, you are taking an active role in a decision that affects your life. Other potential benefits of a clinical trial include:

  • You may have access to new treatments.
  • There may be fewer side effects compared to the standard treatment.
  • You may have more regular tests, which some people find reassuring.
  • You will be given a research nurse.
  • You may help to improve future melanoma treatments and medical knowledge.

Possible Drawbacks

New treatments under study may not be better than, or even as good as standard care. They may have side effects that doctors do not expect or that are worse than those of standard treatment. Even if a new treatment has benefits, it may not work for you. Even standard treatments, proven effective for many people, do not help everyone. If you receive standard treatment instead of the new treatment being tested, it many not be as effective as the new approach. Other possible drawbacks of a clinical trial include:

  • There may be more side effects compared to the standard treatment.
  • The trial may not be available at a convenient location.
  • You will have to stick to the trial schedule and may have to go to hospital more often for tests and treatment, which can be inconvenient.
  • You may not like the uncertainty of not knowing whether you are taking a new drug, the standard treatment, or a placebo.
  • Health insurance and managed care providers do not always cover all patient care costs in a study. What they cover varies by plan and by study. To find out in advance what costs are likely to be paid in your case, talk to the doctor, nurse or social worker from the study.

Find out as much as possible about the trial to help you to decide if you do want to take part. You can leave a clinical trial at any time, without it affecting your care.

References: NCIS, Cancer Treatment Research Studies, Clinical Trials Information