What is a clinical trial?

Although there are many definitions of clinical trials, they are generally considered to be biomedical or health-related research studies in human beings that follow a pre-defined protocol. ClinicalTrials includes both interventional and observational types of studies. Interventional studies are those in which the research subjects are assigned by the investigator to a treatment or other intervention, and their outcomes are measured. Observational studies are those in which individuals are observed and their outcomes are measured by the investigators.

What are the different types of clinical trials?

  • Treatment trials test experimental treatments, new combinations of drugs, or new approaches to surgery or radiation therapy.
  • Prevention trials look for better ways to prevent disease in people who have never had the disease or to prevent a disease from returning. These approaches may include medicines, vaccines, vitamins, minerals, or lifestyle changes.
  • Diagnostic trials are conducted to find better tests or procedures for diagnosing a particular disease or condition.
  • Screening trials test the best way to detect certain diseases or health conditions.
  • Quality of Life trials (or Supportive Care trials) explore ways to improve comfort and the quality of life for individuals with a chronic illness.

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What is ‘research’?

Research: is a step-by-step process that involves collecting and examining information. We do research to improve our knowledge and understanding about the world we live in. It almost always involves finding out something new.

Researchers: are the people who carry out research. They can be all different sorts of people, including scientists, doctors, nurses, psychologists, students and epidemiologists. Epidemiologists are population researchers who, among other things, work out the statistics you often see in the news.

Cancer research: is the study of cancer, from its basic biology to the effects of treatment. Researchers who study cancer collect and analyse information about every aspect of the disease. This includes:

  • What causes cancer
  • How cancers form
  • The different ways to treat cancer
  • How cancer can be prevented

The final goal of cancer research is to produce effective treatment and prevention for the many different types of cancers around today.

The term ‘cancer research’ covers a wide range of activities. But, in general, there are five main areas of research. They are:

1. Basic research : Basic research is the study of how cells work. Cancer researchers who carry out basic research do not focus on finding a new treatment or developing a new drug. Instead, they want to understand what makes cancer cells different from normal cells.

2. Translational research : Translational research takes discoveries made in the laboratory and shapes them into potential new treatments or diagnostic tests that, in time, could help patients. It applies the knowledge gained by doing basic research.Just like basic research, translational research is usually carried out in a laboratory.

3. Clinical research: are scientific research studies designed to find better ways to treat or prevent diseases. Our goal is to help you make an educated decision about participating in a clinical trial and to help you understand the clinical trial process.

4. Behavioural and population research : Society-funded behavioral researchers focus on issues related to our lifestyles and cancer (such as smoking or physical activity), early detection and screening for cancer, and psychological or social support for cancer patients and their families. Behavioral and psychosocial science has the potential to contribute much to the overall effort to reduce cancer morbidity and mortality and to improve the quality of life for cancer patients and their families. These researchers also examine the cancer risk factors affecting groups of people, such as genetic / inherited factors and environmental or workplace carcinogens, and they evaluate the quality and accessibility of cancer care in communities across the country.

5. Psychosocial research : The overall goal of the Department of Psychosocial Cancer Research is to generate high- level international knowledge about psychosocial conditions in cancer patients. Through this knowledge, it is our hope that we may contribute to novel and improved offers of treatment and rehabilitation to cancer patients and their relatives. Specifically, the research explores the relation between psychological and social conditions, such as personality traits, major life events (divorce, death of spouse and unemployment), psychological stress and the incidence of cancer.

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