This would possibly sound funny however becoming a medical oncologist of today’s era strikes a chord in my memory and a ton of fine reminiscences of childhood. Treatment of cancer these days resembles to a video game we try to win the game as quick as possible by hitting /shooting the target precisely. Hitting the bullseye of cancer and setting the proper treatment rule for patient is just like the game where we have to hit the target which is dividing uncontrollably with no fixed pattern i.e. cancerous cells, which are invasive and destroying close normal cells in cancer patient’s body. As a medical oncologist we have some weapon with a specific goal to kill these destructive cells rapidly precisely. In the game with the help of certain helping tools or helpers you can destroy the target and finish the game, clinical trial plays the role of that helper which assist in precise targeting of these cancerous cells as the trial outcomes always enables the clinician with new insight of the disease.
Into the world on clinical trials
A clinical trial is a research study that involves patient population and is done to answer some important aspects of medical care by following a predefined protocol, or plan of action. During the duration of clinical trial new therapies and treatments are tested in patients to determine their safety and effectiveness. There are various types of trials, which are commonly known know as randomized, controlled clinical trials, they are an attempt to find best treatment with the fewest side effects. In a disease like cancer latest is best if we are looking from patient prospective a trial is an attempt to find out effectiveness, new methods of treatment or prevention on a patient population selected strictly on a certain inclusion criteria of trial. A carefully designed clinical trial is best and fastest way to find the ways and methods of improving the health of patients included and population which matches on criteria with them.
How a clinical trial is designed
The clinical trial starts with a protocol where it is designed on certain parameters like what the trial will study, what will be the possible outcomes, which population of patients the trail will include and what are the parameters the researcher is hoping during results. Once the trial protocol is designed then the study will be divided into two randomized, controlled groups. Group which will receive the experimental protocol as per designed and predefined criteria will be known as experimental group whereas there will be a control group which will receive the standard protocol or in other words the usual treatment. Another way to have more clear outcomes of protocol would be to conduct a blinded trials, where patients don’t know who is getting the treatment and who is getting the placebo until the trial is over. This ensures the patient’s perceived response to the drug or placebo can’t be influenced by whether they think they have been taking the experimental drug or standard Page3 drug. In a double-blind study, neither the patients nor the researchers know who has taken the experimental drug or the standard drug until the study is over. Understanding a Clinical trial in phases It is really important for a patient to understand a little more closely about clinical trial before enrolling oneself into one of them.
Although there is a lot of unknown involved still we can say safely a trial is aimed to compare its advantages over the standard treatment. A patient can always be positive about one fact that clinical trial is better than existing treatment option that’s why it is under testing and drug which is being given is already pretested in labs on animal model before human.
Authored by Dr. Sajjan S Rajpurohit, M.B.B.S, M.D, D.N.B (Medical Oncology), ECMO, PDCR