Clinical trials play a pivotal role in advancing cancer research and improving treatment options for individuals battling this formidable disease. They provide a pathway to access cutting-edge therapies and contribute to the collective knowledge that informs future cancer treatments. However, despite the potential benefits, cancer clinical trials often face barriers to participation. In this article, we’ll explore the seven most common obstacles to joining these trials and offer strategies to overcome them.
1. Lack of Awareness
Barrier: As a cancer patient, you and your families may be unaware of available clinical trials and the potential benefits they offer.
Solution: You should actively seek information from your healthcare providers, cancer centers, and reputable online resources. Additionally, advocacy organizations and support groups can be valuable sources of information and support.
You may also find clinical trial databases and matching services helpful. These databases are designed with skilled navigators to help you match your medical profiles with trial-eligibility criteria.
The following sites may help you narrow down your search and/or find a suitable trial:
Government-Sponsored Trial Finders
- clinicaltrials.gov (U.S. National Library of Medicine)
- trials.cancer.gov (Limited to National Cancer Institute–supported research and sites)
Third-Party Trial Finders
Disease-Specific Trial Finders
- Blood cancers: https://trials.lls.org/
- Breast cancer: breastcancertrials.org
- Colorectal cancer: fightcolorectalcancer.org/clinical-trial-finder/
- Gynecologic cancers (breast, cervical, metastatic breast cancer, ovarian, uterine): sharecancersupport.org; or call 1-877-769-4832; in New York 1-212-542-5897. Spanish-speaking specialists are available. (Se habla español.)
- Lung cancer: https://clinicaltrials.lungevity.org/
- Neuroendocrine tumors/cancers: ancora.ai/neuroendocrine
- Ovarian, fallopian tube, primary peritoneal cancer: https://ocra.careboxhealth.com (Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance/OCRA)
- Pancreatic cancer: https://clinicaltrials.pancan.org
2. Eligibility Criteria
Barrier: Strict eligibility criteria can exclude some individuals from participating in clinical trials.
Solution: It’s essential to discuss eligibility criteria with your healthcare team. Some trials may have less stringent criteria, and new trials with different inclusion criteria are continually being developed. Don’t hesitate to explore various trials to find one that matches your situation.
3. Fear of Placebo
Barrier: Some participants worry about receiving a placebo instead of active treatment in randomized clinical trials.
Solution: Clinical trials involving placebos are essential for advancing cancer research, but they’re not the only option. You can explore