Clinical trials are research studies that aim to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new treatments, therapies, or interventions in human subjects.
- Clinical trials for children and adolescents with cancer are critical for advancing our understanding of paediatric cancer and improving treatment outcomes. These trials are generally designed to address the unique aspects of childhood cancers. They test new drugs, therapies, or treatment approaches and compare them with those that are currently accepted as standard.
- Before any new treatment can be made widely available to patients, it must be studied in clinical trials and found to be safe and effective in treating disease.
- Clinical trials are the final step in a long process that begins with research in a lab. Before any new treatment is used with people in clinical trials, researchers work for many years to understand its effects on cancer cells in the lab and in animals. They also try to figure out the side effects it may cause.
- Clinical trials are standard practice in cancer treatment for children, adolescents, and young adults; about 60% of children with cancer are enrolled in a trial, as opposed to less than 5% of adult patients.
- Childhood cancers are relatively rare compared to adult cancers, which means that the number of eligible participants for paediatric clinical trials may be smaller. As a result, these trials may take longer to enroll enough participants.
- Special care must be taken to consider ethical factors. Informed consent is obtained from parents or legal guardians, as well as from the child if they are old enough to understand, in order to ensure that they are willing to participate.
- Paediatric clinical trials typically follow the same phase-based approach as adult trials. Phase I trials evaluate the safety and dosage of a new treatment. Phase II trials assess its effectiveness, and Phase III trials compare the new treatment to the current standard of care.
- Since childhood cancers can have long-term effects on survivors, clinical trials often include long-term follow-up plans to monitor the health and well-being of participants even after the trial has ended.
- Paediatric cancer research often involves collaboration among multiple institutions, researchers, and organizations.
- Through clinical trials, significant progress has been made in increasing the survival rates for many childhood cancers. These trials have led to the development of more targeted and less toxic treatments, resulting in improved outcomes for young patients.
It is important to acknowledge that advancements in paediatric cancer treatment rely heavily on the willingness of families and children to participate in clinical trials. Their participation contributes to the greater understanding of childhood cancers and brings hope for better treatments and outcomes in the future.