Clinical trials for colorectal cancer test new treatment options including drug therapy, surgery, radiation and combination procedures. There are also clinical trials that test new screening methods for early detection and prevention, clinical trials that research ways to prevent cancer recurrence and there are even clinical trials that try to identify ways of reducing side effects of cancer treatment.
Before new drugs reach patients enrolled in clinical trials, they go through a multi-phased rigorous laboratory process called preclinical research. Without trials, CRC therapies would not evolve to become better and more reliable. All current therapies used today are a result of clinical trials!
Clinical trial participation is voluntary and patients can withdraw from a trial at any time if they choose to do so. Before joining a trial, the participant must sign an informed consent. This is a detailed document with all the trial information. Patients often participate in clinical trials because they hope a new treatment will benefit them or they want to contribute to the future of medicine and help find cures. Most clinical trials require a patient to qualify or be eligible to participate, based on specific medical criteria.
Understanding Clinical Trials
If you’re wondering what makes a trial successful, the risks involved in trials and if some of the common myths are true, download this fact sheet and talk it over with your doctor.
Phases of Clinical Trials
- Phase I answers the questions: how much, how safe, how often? This phase determines safe dosage range and identifies side effects.
- Phase II answers the question: does the new treatment do any good? This phase evaluates safety and effectiveness.
- Phase III answers the question: what’s better, the new treatment or the standard treatment? This phase confirms effectiveness, monitors side effects and compares the new treatment to treatment currently used.
Note: Phase I trials are often not in the large databases. Look on the websites of cancer centers near you to see what they are offering, or call their oncology department.
Finding the Right Clinical Trial
If you’re interested in a clinical trial, talk to your treatment team. They may know of a clinical trial in your area or state, or can help you find a trial that’s right for you. You can also use a clinical trial finder like the ones listed below or the Fight CRC Late Stage MSS-CRC Trial Finder.
When discussing clinical trials with your care team, be prepared with questions to help you decide if joining a clinical trial is right for you:
Questions to Ask When Considering a Clinical Trial
- Am I eligible for a clinical trial? If yes, do you feel that would be a good choice for me?
- How do the possible risks and benefits of the new treatment compare with my other treatment options?
- Are there extra procedures or visits in the trial compared with standard care?
- Who will pay for what in the trial?
- What is the standard treatment for someone in my situation? What do you recommend?
- What will my treatment schedule look like?
- What are the short- and long-term side effects of the treatment you are recommending?
- How will my health be monitored during treatment?
Potential risks of clinical trials
- New treatments aren’t always better than the standard treatment available. In some situations, they may be less effective.
- There may be unexpected side effects, or side effects may be worse than the standard treatment.
- Patients in randomized clinical trials can’t choose their treatment, nor can their doctors.
- Some costs of clinical trials may not be covered. Check with your doctors and insurance company to see what is covered.
- If the trial requires you to travel far, additional challenges and logistical issues could come up.
Clinical Trial Finders
- ClinicalTrials.gov lists all phase III and most phase II trials. The FDA requires them to be listed on this website.
- Late Stage MSS-CRC Trial Finder: A curated list powered by patients. This trial finder is a one-stop place to find and learn about high-impact clinical trials for CRC patients. You can search for clinical trials open in your geography, and for which you may be eligible. This patient-centered tool emphasizes the relationship between patient values and the desire to find clinical trials with meaningful impact for their treatment. It is curated and reviewed by Fight CRC’s staff and research advocate volunteers in partnership with Dr. Tom Marsilje. Watch a video about why Tom created this tool.
- EmergingMed lists available trials for colorectal cancer. You can also call 866-278-0392 to speak to a Clinical Trial Navigator at EmergingMed for direct assistance.
- Smart Patients lets you search for and browse colorectal cancer clinical trials. You can also join the Smart Patients colorectal cancer community where patients and families affected by colon, rectal or anal cancer learn from each other.
- Antidote works by having you answer a few questions before the tool creates a list of trials most relevant to you. If you have questions about any of the trials, please contact the study coordinator listed for the trial. This free, confidential, personalized service helps you understand which clinical trials may be an option for you.