Clinical Research and Clinical Trials
“The Billings Clinic Cancer team is really good at getting rid of cancer with leading-edge technologies and treatments, but the best part of my care was the way they treated me,” said Nicole Strand, ovarian cancer survivor and clinical trial participant. “I was treated like a person who was important to each of them. It makes me choke up when I think about their compassion towards me.”
At Billings Clinic Cancer Center our goal is to provide you with state-of-the-art cancer care, which includes a quality research program.
We participate in research through clinical trials with:
By working with these groups we provide access to a variety of clinical trials for cancer prevention, treatment, investigational drugs, and symptom management. At any one time, we participate in more than 100 clinical trials that are available for different cancer diagnoses.
How can I find out if there is a clinical trial for me?
Your physician and our cancer research nurse review all newly diagnosed cancer patients to see if we have a clinical trial for which you may be a candidate. All clinical trials have specific eligibility requirements that differ from study to study to make the research more reliable.
If you are eligible for a clinical trial your physician and the research nurse will review a form called an Informed Consent. This explains the study, procedures, and the risk of the study. It may also ask about collecting blood or storing tissue for research or further study. This is your time to ask questions. You may want to take the Informed Consent home and discuss it with your family.
Many clinical cancer research trials are divided into three phases based on the question they are asking about the treatment. The phases are as follows:
- Phase I clinical trials are for new treatments after animal studies have been done and have shown some promise. This is the first testing of the drug on humans. The study group is very limited and for participants for whom no other known treatment has helped. The question these trials answer are if a drug is safe in humans, how much drug can be given and what are the side effects.
- Phase II are clinical trials that focus on whether a new treatment will shrink the cancer or improve symptoms. It is a very limited group of participants.
- Phase III compares the new treatment with the standard treatment. This usually involves having a treatment group that receives the new treatment and a control group that receives the standard treatment. A randomized method is used to decide who is in each group.
Should you participate in a clinical trial?
Here are some questions you may want to ask to help make a decision:
- What is the purpose of the study? What is the phase?
- Does the study involve a randomization?
- What are possible short and long-term risks, side effects, and benefits to me?
- What kinds of treatments, medical tests, or procedures does the study require?
- How often will I receive treatment? How long are the treatments? How long will I be on the study?
- Are the medications provided for the study?
- Where will my treatment take place?
- How will I know if the treatment is working?
- Will my insurance cover the cost of the study?