About Sarcoma Research

Clinical research encompasses drug or intervention studies, systems of health care delivery, measures of the impact of disease on the community (epidemiology), research into the genetic basis of cancer in a human context, as well as research into the psychosocial and quality-of-life impacts of cancer.

What are the types of clinical trials?

The type of study performed will be determined in part by the natural history of the disease and what clinical question is asked. Questions can range from treatment questions asking if one drug is better than another, to questions about quality of life on a particular treatment, to questions about what causes a particular cancer. Currently, some Phase II and most Phase III drug trials are designed as randomized, double blind, and placebo-controlled.

In a randomised study each study subject is randomly assigned to receive either the study treatment or a placebo- you do not get to choose which treatment you would prefer.

In a blinded study subjects involved in the study do not know which study treatment they receive. If the study is double-blind, the researchers also do not know which treatment is being given to any given subject. This 'blinding' is to prevent biases, since if a physician knew which patient was getting the study treatment and which patient was getting the placebo, he/she might be tempted to give the treatment they felt was more effective to a patient who could more easily benefit from it. In addition, a physician might give extra care to only the patients who receive the placebos to compensate for their ineffectiveness. A form of double-blind study called a "double-dummy" design allows additional insurance against bias or placebo effect. In this kind of study, all patients are given both placebo and active doses in alternating periods of time during the study. A placebo is used to control for the psychological effect of receiving a medication, but does not contain any active ingredient.

The number of patients enrolled in a study has a large bearing on the ability of the study to reliably detect the whether the treatment has an effect. This is described as the "power" of the trial: The larger the number of participants in the trial, the greater the statistical power. However, more patients make for a more expensive trial.


Last update: 09-Jun-2011 05:43 PM

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