What is a clinical trial and why should I join one? - video transcript

Voiceover: Jon is helping doctors to find a cure for his cancer. Like 1 in 5 UK cancer patients he is taking part in a clinical trial.

Jac Samuel: Clinical trials involve patients in medical research. We need clinical trials to develop new treatments for the future to make sure that we can offer patients the best possible care. That might be new drugs it might be radiotherapy, surgery and we are also looking into prevention and the causes of cancer.

Jon: I found out about the trial towards the end of my course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy and the oncologist that was treating me asked me if I would like to take part. It seemed to be a very logical thing to do and frankly after a diagnosis of serious cancer if you are given the opportunity of taking part in something which may, however small the chance is, result in your cure. Really, is there any reason why you shouldn’t do it.

Voiceover: To be sure that taking part in the trial is right for you your doctor will explain the trial and your role in it. You’ll get plenty of information which includes how patient welfare is protected.

Jac Samuel: Before a trial comes to the point where patients are entered it’s reviewed in great detail by researchers and other professional experts and it goes to an ethics committee which is made up of specific professionals but also members of the public so that they can review it to make sure that it’s the best possible shape before it is offered to patients.

Voiceover: When Annie decided to take part in a clinical trial it wasn’t just her own treatment she hoped would benefit.

Annie: To take part in a research trial which could help somebody else who comes after you can be the positive experience that you have in the midst of this otherwise dark time. I certainly was aware that the treatment that I was being given was only possible because of women before me who had agreed to take part in clinical trials. And so there was an emotional side of me which said it is right that you should take part in this and this is your legacy to the women who will come after you.

Voiceover: But not every trial is suitable for every patient.

Jac: There are certain entry conditions before patients can take part in a trial. This might be their age, it might be the type of cancer they have got, it might be the stage of the cancer they’ve got. And that’s to make sure that the group of patients who take part are as similar as possible so that when the data is collected you’re looking at very clear indications of the type of cancer that the patient’s got and how the treatment affects that.

Voiceover: Once you have joined a clinical trial you are usually assigned a research nurse.

Jac: That nurse acts as a kind of a key worker for the patient, they would be their first point of contact for any concerns, whether it was tests they were having, side effects, if they didn’t feel well, down to very kind of ....small things that are very key to patients like where they park at the hospital, who pays for parking, what their travel costs are and the research nurse would sort all that out.

Voiceover: So, what might be the drawbacks in taking part?

Annie: There may be other tests that you have to undergo, more blood samples for example

Jon: You are reminded every, in my case, every 6 weeks or so that you have cancer, uum you come back into a hospital environment um but it is only for a few hours and after you have done it a few times you..it passes very quickly and you leave the hospital with a slight skip in your step because you know that you have been checked over thoroughly and you are clear.

Voiceover: But what happens if you change your mind and want to leave the trial?

Jac: If the patient wants to leave the trial at any point they can, the research nurse would organise that for them and they then move back into the normal care that would be offered for their type of cancer, with no problem.

Voiceover: Before you decide here are some tips from Jon and Annie

Annie: First of all, do ask questions and keep on asking questions until you get an answer that you are satisfied with

Jon: Look into the trial itself, understand what it is trying to achieve um and i think you have to be happy that you support that as an aim.

Annie: Take your time to think about it, you don’t have to make the decision there and then you can take it home and think about it over night

Jon: And well really the downsides are so small by comparison to the potential benefits that my advice is to just do it.

Voiceover: For more information or to find a cancer trial, go to our trials database

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