Pediatric Clinical Research Trials

Is there a risk that the experimental treatment [new treatment] will have a worse outcome than the standard treatment?
The answer to this question is that we do not know. That is why the study is being done. Although the hope is that the experimental treatment will have a better outcome than the standard treatment, this will not be known until the study is completed.

Are there more side effects with the experimental treatment?
The study or experimental treatment may cause more or fewer side effects than standard treatments. That will be part of what the study will answer. All studies provide information on the balance between the effectiveness of the treatment (how well it works) and the side effects or complications it causes.

Is there a direct benefit to my child participating in clinical trials?
Participating in a clinical research study gives your child a chance to receive the experimental [new] treatment that she or he would otherwise not be able to receive.

Will I get the results of the study that my child participated in?
Yes, you will be given the results of the study as soon as the study results have been published. However, most cancer trials last for several years.

I feel that my child is being treated as a guinea pig.
Some parents feel that their child is being used as a “guinea pig”. The outcomes for childhood cancer have dramatically improved over the last 30 years. In fact, the earliest cancer advances happened in the early 1970s as a result of clinical trials testing new treatments for cancer in children. The cure rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia has increased from 10-15% to over 85%, for example. The overall cure rate for childhood cancers is greater than 80%. This success is due to the many children who have and continue to participate in clinical research trials. Each new study builds on the studies that came before it. Because information is collected and analyzed about each child entered on a study, that information can, and often benefits other children around the world.

For almost all children, the outcome of their treatment is better through participating in a clinical research trial because of the many measures that are in place to maximize safety and chances of benefit.

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