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Cancer Clinical Trials: The Basic Workbook

  • Posted: 08/15/2002

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Basic Workbook: Preface

Scientific discoveries are providing more and more insights into the causes of cancer. Many of these successes are limited to the laboratory and have yet to be translated into improved care for people with cancer.

Clinical trials are a critical part of the research process. Clinical trials help to move basic scientific research from the laboratory into treatments for people. By evaluating the results of these trials, we can find better treatments and ways to prevent, detect, and treat cancer. But very few adults with cancer - only 3 percent - participate in clinical trials. We need to test the best cancer prevention, detection, and treatment ideas in the shortest time possible, and this can only happen if more people participate in clinical trials.

We know that most people understand very little about clinical trials. National Cancer Institute (NCI) research has shown that the general public is either unaware of clinical trials as a treatment/ prevention option or misinformed about the clinical trial process. The reasons for this lack of understanding are complex, and there is no simple solution. We do know, however, that there are many barriers that discourage both physicians and potential participants from taking part in clinical trials.

By reading this workbook, you are already helping to overcome some of these barriers. Whether you are a cancer survivor, someone who works with people with cancer, or someone who is touched by cancer in another way - this workbook can help answer your questions about clinical trials. It will help you understand why cancer clinical trials are important, how they work, how participants' safety is protected, and some of the reasons why more adults don't participate in trials.

With this information, you can help people in your community make informed decisions about their cancer treatment and prevention options, including the option of participating in a clinical trial.

How to Use This Workbook

Each section of this workbook features information about different aspects of clinical trials, usually followed by an exercise or questions. Because each section builds on the one that precedes it, it is strongly recommended that you complete each exercise to enhance your understanding of the concepts before moving on to the next section. Some of the exercises expand on concepts introduced in the text. If you are working within an organization, you may wish to read the material on your own and review the exercises with other members of your organization.