Multiple Myeloma Clinical Trials

Although you may not realize it, participating in a cancer clinical trial is actually one of your treatment options. Multiple myeloma clinical trials give you access to some of the most advanced myeloma treatments available.

What Are Clinical Trials?

The goal of medical clinical trials is to answer key questions about the safety and effectiveness of new treatments in humans. Clinical trials often test new drugs, new combinations of existing drugs and new procedures. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t approve any new medications until they’ve proven to be successful in clinical trials. Clinical research may also test new ways to detect, diagnose or prevent cancer.

Many people hold the misconception that clinical trials treat human beings as little more than laboratory rats, but this is not the case. Before any new treatment is tested on humans in a cancer clinical trial, convincing evidence must exist that the treatment is at least as effective as existing treatments. Patient safety is always a priority in multiple myeloma clinical trials.

Phases of Multiple Myeloma Clinical Trials

Medical clinical trials are classified into one of the following phases:

  • Phase I. Phase I trials are the first phase of human testing. The purpose of Phase I trials is to determine how a particular treatment should be given (orally or intravenously) and at what dosage.
  • Phase II. Phase II trials continue to study the effectiveness of the new treatment, seeking to answer questions about how the treatment affects myeloma cancer growth.
  • Phase III. Phase III trials may involve a few hundred to a few thousand participants, each of whom is randomly selected to receive either the new treatment or a standard treatment. The goal of this phase is to determine whether the new treatment produces better survival rates and fewer side effects than the standard treatment. If so, the clinical research team applies to the FDA for drug approval, a process that may take up to a year.
  • Phase IV. In some cases, researchers continue to monitor the long-term effectiveness and side effects a particular treatment even after the drug has been approved for public use.

Pros and Cons of Multiple Myeloma Clinical Trials

When you participate in clinical research, you have access to promising new treatments and advanced medical care that may not otherwise be available to you. You also have the opportunity to play a role in advancing the field of multiple myeloma treatment.

However, you bear the risk that the experimental treatment will be less effective than standard treatments. Additional costs may be associated with participating in a cancer clinical trial, such as travel expenses and doctors’ appointments. Talk to your health insurance provider to find out if such costs are covered.

Where to Find Multiple Myeloma Clinical Trials

Typically, each cancer clinical trial has specific eligibility criteria based on age, sex and the current stage of your disease. Your doctor or local patient advocacy group may be able to recommend a clinical trial for you. You may find one yourself online through the following organizations:

  • American Cancer Society
  • International Myeloma Foundation
  • U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Resources

American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Clinical trials: What you need to know. Retrieved October 13, 2010, from http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ClinicalTrials/ WhatYouNeedtoKnowaboutClinicalTrials/clinical-trials-what-you-need-to-know-toc

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2009). Clinical trials: A chance to try evolving therapies. Retrieved October 13, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/clinical-trials/DI00033

Myeloma Canada. (2010). New therapy development. Retrieved October 13, 2010, from http://www.myelomacanada.ca/en/new_therapy_development.htm

National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Cancer clinical trials. Retrieved October 13, 2010, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Information/clinical-trials

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. (n.d.). Why take part in a clinical study? Retrieved October 13, 2010, from http://www.seattlecca.org/why-take-part-in-a-clinical-trial.cfm