Clinical Trials Myths and Misconceptions

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Memorial Sloan Kettering experts discuss common myths and misconceptions about clinical trials.

Paul Sabbatini, Deputy Physician-in-Chief for Clinical Research, says that probably the biggest patient myth about clinical trials is that patients will receive a placebo without their knowledge. He says a patient would never be offered a placebo without it being clearly explained in the informed consent process. He also stresses that a patient would never be asked to participate in a clinical trial that would withhold the standard of care if the standard of care has proven to provide a benefit.

Patients also often worry that once they are enrolled in a clinical trial they will be ineligible to enroll again in the future. Dr. Sabbatini says that this is only true if patients attempt to enroll in a clinical trial that is very similar to the one they were enrolled in that proved unsuccessful. If this is not the case, patients are free to enroll in other clinical trials.

Medical oncologist David Hyman talks about the misconception that participating in a clinical trial is only tried as a last-ditch effort. He says that many clinical trials are geared toward patients who have never been treated and the process for matching patients to trials is getting increasingly smarter.

Clinical nurse specialist Amy Copelandtalks about the misconception that in order to get into a clinical trial, the patient must have a connection of some sort. Clinical trials are open to anyone who meets the criteria for the trial.