Clinical trials are research studies that test either new treatments or new ways to prevent or detect cancer and other conditions.

Clinical trials help to determine whether these new treatments are safe and effective and whether they work better than current treatments. If you participate in a clinical trial, you may be able to receive a new drug or treatment that you wouldn’t be able to receive otherwise.

Clinical trials for ovarian cancer may test new drugs or new treatment options, such as a new surgery or radiation therapy technique. Some may even test an alternative medicine or nontraditional approach to cancer treatment.

Most new cancer treatments must go through clinical trials before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves them.

Participating in Clinical Trials

If you’re considering a clinical trial for advanced ovarian cancer, you may want to think about possible risks and benefits when making your decision.

Possible Benefits

  • You might have access to a new treatment that’s not available to people outside the trial. The new treatment could be safer or work better than your other treatment options.
  • You may get more attention from your healthcare team and more careful monitoring of your condition. Most people report excellent medical care and access to top doctors. According to one survey, 95 percent of people who had taken part in a clinical trial said they’d consider it again in the future.
  • You’ll help doctors learn more about the disease, which can help other women with advanced ovarian cancer.
  • Your medical care and other expenses may be paid for during the study.

Possible Risks

  • The new treatment may have unknown risks or side effects.
  • The new treatment may not work any better, or could even be worse, than other treatment options.
  • You might have to make more trips to the doctor or have extra tests that may be time consuming and uncomfortable.
  • You may not have a choice about what treatment you get.
  • Even if the new treatment works for other people, it may not work for you.
  • Health insurance may not cover all the costs of taking part in a clinical trial.

Of course, these are only some of the possible benefits and risks of participating in a clinical trial for advanced ovarian cancer.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Deciding whether to take part in a clinical trial, if one is available, can be a difficult decision. Taking part in a trial is ultimately your decision, but it’s a good idea to get opinions from one or more doctors before joining.

You may want to ask your doctor the following questions about taking part in a clinical trial for advanced ovarian cancer:

  • Why is this trial being done?
  • How long will I be in the trial?
  • What tests and treatments are involved?
  • How will I know if the treatment is working?
  • How will I find out about the results of the study?
  • Will I have to pay for any of the treatments or tests? What costs will my health insurance cover?
  • If a treatment is working for me, can I still get it even after the study ends?
  • What is likely to happen to me if I decide to take part in the study? Or, if I decide not to take part in the study?
  • How does the treatment I would receive in the clinical trial compare to my other treatment options?

Finding a Clinical Trial

Most people find out about clinical trials through their doctors. Some other places to find out about clinical trials for advanced ovarian cancer and other types of cancers include:

  • The National Cancer Institute (NCI) sponsors many government-funded cancer research trials.
  • Private companies, including pharmaceutical companies or biotechnology firms, may have information on their websites about particular clinical trials they’re sponsoring.
  • Clinical trial matching services have computer-based systems that match people with studies. The American Cancer Society and other groups may offer this service online for free.

It’s important to remember that even if you find a clinical trial for advanced ovarian cancer, you may not be able to participate. Clinical trials often have certain requirements or restrictions for participating. Talk to your doctor or to the study’s primary researcher to see if you’re a qualified candidate.