A clinical trial is a type of medical or health-related study that investigates the safety and efficacy of a novel form of patient treatment. The nature of the treatment tested is not necessarily associated with a new drug; it can also be a device, protocol or even a diagnostic tool. Patient safety is of great importance when developing or conducting a clinical trial. To ensure that the highest standard of patient safety is met, all clinical trials conducted in Australia are thoroughly reviewed and approved by an external ethics committee. However, we do understand that patients may feel apprehensive about the idea of being involved in a clinical trial. Your dermatologist at the Skin & Cancer Foundation is happy to answer any questions that you may have on clinical trials.
From experience, patients often ask “why should I participate in a clinical trial?” This is a very good question. There are several reasons why patients should participate in clinical trials when offered. The main reason is that the patient will receive the most current form of treatment for their condition, gaining access to treatment options that are not yet commercially available. When patients participate in clinical trials at the Skin & Cancer Foundation they also receive expert medical care, in a highly reputable health care facilities (often free of charge). Patients also gain personal satisfaction from their contribution to medical science.
The next question often asked by a patient is “can I trust that this treatment is safe?” It’s important for patients to understand that in most cases clinical trials are very safe. For a test treatment to gain approval for use in a clinical trial, evidence from past research must be provided, demonstrating that the treatment is safe for humans. However, it is impossible to guarantee that no unpleasant or unexpected side-effects will occur from the experimental treatment. At the Skin & Cancer Foundation Australia we carefully decide on our involvement in clinical trials after deep consideration. Patient safety is our highest priority and we only elect to be involved in studies that we understand to be safe and that we believe will benefit our patients in the future.
It is important to mention that our patients are under no obligation to participate in any clinical trial at the Skin & Cancer Foundation Australia. It will in no way affect the clinical care offered if a patient decides to not participate in a trial. We understand that participation in clinical trials is not for everyone, however, we like to give our patients the option, so they can fully understand the treatment options available to them.