Melanoma represents about 2 percent of all skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Though it’s a rare form of skin cancer, it’s a serious disease. In fact, melanoma accounts for most skin cancer-related deaths.
When caught early, melanoma survival rates of are quite high. But survival rates are much lower in stage 3 or stage 4, when the cancer is most advanced.
Most melanoma clinical trials focus on treatments for late-stage forms of the disease. A common reason many melanoma patients choose to volunteer for a clinical trial is to receive possible life-saving treatment.
Patients with late-stage melanoma sometimes find that treatments that had been working are no longer effective. Clinical trials may provide access to medications or procedures that have yet to receive formal approval by the federal government. An experimental treatment being tested by a legitimate organization, such as a major research university or hospital, may be the best option for beating this form of cancer.
Clinical trial participants also help others. You may help bring a new, valuable treatment to the public if you choose to participate in a trial. And volunteering for a clinical trial may help you feel more involved and in control of your healthcare.
Clinical trials offer no assurance of positive outcomes. But you will receive medical attention throughout a trial. Many clinical trials don’t use a placebo, which is a medication without an active ingredient. This means that everyone involved will get the medication or undergo the procedure being tested. Even if you receive a placebo, you will most likely receive standard care in other ways. And you can drop out of a trial at any time if you choose.
Finding a Match
Each trial focuses on unique treatments and factors. So each one comes with specific eligibility requirements. Having melanoma isn’t the only criteria for a clinical trial. Your age, gender, race, and medical history may affect your eligibility. Researchers may also choose you based on your cancer stage, where the cancer has occurred on your body, and your life expectancy.
Your geographical location will also determine whether you can be part of a clinical trial. The researchers conducting the trial will need to examine you several times during the course of the study, which may require you to travel to the research location.
Discuss clinical trials with your doctor. With a little research, you might find a trial that’s right for you. Whether it’s to study a new technology, surgery, or drug, your participation in a clinical trial could make an important difference for you and countless others.