Those who participate in a melanoma clinical trial, or any other type of clinical trial, play a large role in the development of new treatments, procedures and medications. While test tube (in vitro) and animal studies may give some indication of the effectiveness and safety of treatments, volunteers are necessary to see whether the treatment will also work in humans.
There are both pros and cons associated with participation in a clinical trial. Pros include access to new or innovative treatments, the potential to be one of the first beneficiaries of a treatment, the opportunity to play a role in what may help thousands of other patients and medical attention from some of the best doctors and scientists in the world. Cons include the possibility of the participant’s condition worsening because the new treatment isn’t as effective or because they were chosen for the control group, exposure to unknown side effects or risks, undergoing an increased number of tests or giving up time or money to participate.
While some clinical trials test combinations of conventional therapies, the majority look at new treatments or medications. Participants in the trial are often given medications that are not even on the market yet. If the treatment is successful, patients may have reduced their melanoma, as well as played a role in the development of something that could help others.
Most clinical trials are led by top researchers and doctors. Patients participating the trial are under their care. Close monitoring is done to determine any effects, both positive and negative. Trial participants often receive much closer monitoring than non-participating melanoma patients.
Not all treatments in melanoma clinical trials are successful. Patients who have given up conventional treatment in favour of experimental may find that their condition worsens. While rare, there is even a possibility that the new treatment may even work opposite from expected. Even though in vitro and animal studies may have shown no side effects or risks, there is no guarantee that the same will hold true with human participants.
Not all trial participants are given the treatment. To prevent contamination of results, trials are operated on a blind basis with patients unaware of whether they are receiving the real treatment or a placebo. One drawback that leads many people to turn away from participation is the amount of time and money that must be invested. Some patients have to make frequent trips for monitoring or administration of the treatment. While some trials do reimburse patients for their expenses, it may not cover the full expense. Patients may still be responsible for other costs.
For some people, a melanoma clinical trial can be a good option. It can open the doors to a possible cure for both themselves and others stricken by the disease. However, it is important to carefully examine all the pros and cons before signing up. While the possibility of a cure is wonderful, it may come with some unwanted risks and sacrifices.