Every day, scientists and doctors are making huge advances in the treatment of childhood cancer. New and improved medical approaches are constantly in the works with many passing the testing process to then become available to our little ones. In order to reach all of the kids in need of lifesaving treatment, a new protocol must go through clinical trials. Clinical trials are research studies that involve volunteers who are the first to receive the treatment before it’s available to the public. These trials are used to test the treatments’ effectiveness and safety on real patients to evaluate if it should be approved for other patients.
There are many reasons children with cancer are enrolled in clinical trials. A lot of the time it is because of the possibility that the treatment being tested may work better than the options currently available for their specific cancer diagnosis. Another reason might be that some parents want to participate for the greater good of scientific research – to give other kids the chance to receive better treatment. Though clinical trials can come with possible positives and negatives, they are carefully designed to have as few risks and as many benefits to the patients receiving them. Clinical trials go through lots of approval processes by both the research ethics board of the hospital, and Health Canada to ensure that the trial is legal, ethical, and well designed.
- Your child will receive attentive care during their cancer treatment, as well as close monitoring after the clinical trial.
- Your child may be one of the first to benefit from the treatment if it works successfully.
- Your child is making a mark in medical history and paving the way forward for other children suffering from cancer.
- In Canada, most of the clinical trials are covered by provincial health insurance plans or the sponsoring group, resulting in no cost to you.
- Because these treatments are new, there is the possibility that they can result in no change, or worse, more side effects than standard treatments.
- As with any existing treatment, the new one might not work for everyone in the trial.
- If your child is part of the control group (the group not receiving the treatment) they may not benefit as much if the new treatment is successful.
Learn more by visiting Canadian Cancer Society’s website.
Of course, as with anything, there are always pros and cons to consider. It is important for parents to discuss these with their specialist, as well as involve their child as much as possible in the process. Clinical trials are a choice and not participating in them will not influence the quality of care that a child receives. These are difficult decisions, and parents and/or children may not feel comfortable participating. If they do decide to participate, the possibility to change their mind and withdraw at any time is always an option.