Clinical Trials

Clinical trials help researchers learn which approaches are most successful in fighting cancer. As a patient being treated at Sentara Cancer Network, you may be eligible to take part in a clinical trial ― a study that evaluates a new drug, device or treatment method.

Current Clinical Trials at Sentara by Type of Cancer

A number of standard treatments used today were first shown to be effective in clinical trials. As patients continue to participate in these valuable studies, new and better treatments for cancer are being discovered. For instance, one study we participated in showed that for low-risk prostate patients, “hyperfractionated” radiation therapy is just as effective as standard external beam radiation therapy. “Hyperfractionated” therapy is a higher dose of radiation per treatment given over a shorter period of time, reducing the duration of therapy by 2.5 weeks. This is a great convenience to the patient, and reduces cost of the treatment. This study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2016. The article was titled "Randomized Phase III Noninferiority Study Comparing Two Radiotherapy Fractionation Schedules in Patients With Low-Risk Prostate Cancer."

Patients who qualify for a clinical trial decide whether to participate with the advice of their physician. While the hope is that a clinical trial treatment is designed to be better than the standard of care treatment available, how a treatment will work on a clinical trial is not known ahead of time. Qualified patients should understand both the risks and benefits of clinical trials before making their decisions.

Patients will never be placed on a clinical trial without their knowledge or permission. All qualified patients involved in clinical trials will sign consent forms before the study begins.

Although there is always a chance that a new treatment will be disappointing, the researchers and physicians who approve a study have reason to believe that it will be as good as or better than current treatments. If you qualify, we hope that you and your family will consider participating in this worthwhile endeavor.

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