Pediatric Oncology Research and Clinical Trials
Advocate Children’s Hospital - Park Ridge conducts or participates in a significant number of pediatric hematology/oncology clinical trials. These trials offer children with cancer and other conditions access to the newest types of treatments and diagnostic methods and have helped significantly improve cancer cure rates over the past 50 years.
About Clinical Trials
Misconceptions about research and clinical studies are common, exacerbated by media reports of scientific breakthroughs and the sea of internet information. It is important to understand how a clinical trial/research is conducted and where to find reliable information.
What is a Clinical Trial?
A clinical trial is an organized study that investigates a new treatment/therapy or a new way of using a known treatment/therapy in patients. Each phase of a trial is designed to answer very specific questions regarding a treatment, for example: what is the toxicity of the treatment or what is the effectiveness of the treatment? A set number of patients is allowed into each phase of the study. All treatments are first investigated in the laboratory and in animals before being tested in human beings.
Phases of Clinical Trials
Phase I study investigates the best method for giving a treatment and how much can be given safely. This is the first step after a treatment has been tried in the laboratory and in animals. Because of the significant risks associated with a phase I study ( the side effects of a treatment in human beings are unknown), only patients who have cancer that is not responsive to other known therapies can participate in the trial.
Phase II study is intended to find out if a treatment will actually destroy cancer cells. A larger number of patients is allowed into the study. Along with response to a treatment, a phase II study will also assess for side effects.
Phase III study seeks to find out how a new treatment compares to a standard (known) treatment. Much larger numbers of patients are entered into the study. Quality of life, longer prognosis, and fewer side effects are all investigated in a phase III study.
There are many other types of studies as well that look at different aspects of treatment, for example: using adjuvant therapies or investigating methods of minimizing the side effects of cancer treatment.
It is important to know that at the end of each phase of a trial the study will close (no more patients will be accepted into the study) and scientists will analyze the data. This is the only way to gain knowledge that is meaningful.
Compassionate trial basis refers to a patient who has not responded to standard treatments and is permitted to be treated with a research protocol as a last measure. The patient is not enrolled in the study.
Why Participate in a Clinical Trial
We are committed to exploring newer, more effective cancer treatments to promote quality of life and improve health. Both cancer patients and patients who do not have cancer serve as our vital partners in research that will benefit future generations. In addition, you may have access to new medications or treatments not yet available.
Any information you obtain regarding treatments should always be reviewed with your physician.
More Information and Resources Learn more about clinical trials