Researchers organize lung cancer clinical trials to better understand this type of cancer. Studying how experimental treatments affect current patients can lead to potential treatment breakthroughs. No lung cancer medication can be put on the market without first being shown to be safe and effective.
If you participate in a clinical trial, you may help yourself and others better manage the condition. You may even help save lives from this deadly disease.
Variations in Clinical Trials
Lung cancer is a broad term to describe three subtypes of the disease. These include:
- lung carcinoid tumor (lung neuroendocrine tumors)
- non-small cell cancer (large cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma)
- small cell lung cancer (oat cell cancer)
Non-small cell cancer affects more patients than any other type of lung cancer. In fact, the American Cancer Society says it accounts for 85 percent of all lung cancer cases. Due to the prevalence of non-small cell cancer, you may find many clinical trials that focus on this condition. Other clinical trials may not be subtype-specific. Instead, they may look at lung cancer as a whole.
Treatment for lung cancer varies by stage, which affects how trials are performed. For example, trial participants with small cell lung cancers, which spread quickly, might need to be in advanced stages. And the rarity of lung carcinoid tumors means that related trials aren’t as common as others. Clinical trials look at all forms of treatment types. But they especially focus on new tools to see if different drugs and therapies might be more effective.
Studies might test new:
- targeted therapies to decrease tumor growth and spreading
- radiation therapy
- stents to increase breathing capacity
- laser therapy
- blood tests
Smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer. So certain clinical trials focus solely on the effects that smoking has on the progression of the disease. But smoking isn’t the only cause of lung cancer. Other causes include:
- secondhand smoke
- asbestos exposure
- hereditary factors and genes
- radon exposure
By identifying the causes and evolution of tumors, scientists can look for new treatments. Clinical trials can even contribute to future cures for patients who are genetically predisposed to lung cancer.
What Your Participation Means
Lung cancer clinical trials have great potential for creating new treatments. But medical advances can’t be achieved without the help of study participants. Researchers need to connect with current lung cancer patients to fully understand the disease and determine if a particular treatment works. Your participation may be what it takes to introduce a new treatment to the public.
Clinical trial participation is not without sacrifice. A trial may be time consuming, or it may not help you. You should discuss the possibility of side effects with an oncologist before applying for a study. Learn all of the facts about the trial to determine if it’s right for you.