Join Clinical Trials for Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is generally a slow-growing cancer that produces very few symptoms until it has progressed considerably. Fortunately, it can be detected at an early stage through the use of routine pap smears.
Research related to cervical cancer is focused on addressing a number of issues, examples of which include: improved screening methods for detecting cervical cancer at an early stage; evaluating new and better treatment options for women with cervical cancer; and testing new vaccines to protect against its development (as the majority of all cervical cancer cases are caused by a human papillomavirus [HPV] infection).
What Will Clinical Trials for Cervical Cancer Be Like?
When participating in clinical trials for cervical cancer, there are a few basic tests and procedures you may receive; however, the ultimate design of the particular study will determine which specific procedures you will undergo. Some of the following tests and procedures may be used during cervical cancer clinical trials:
- Physical exam
- Pelvic exam
- Pap smear
- Vaginal or abdominal ultrasound
- Computed tomography (CT scan, or “CAT scan”) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. These imaging procedures are non-invasive and provide detailed pictures of areas inside your body.
- If the study is evaluating a new type of medication or vaccine, blood and/or urine tests may be performed to monitor how your body metabolizes the medication or how effectively your body has responded to the vaccine.
- Quality of life assessments to evaluate how your cancer is impacting your ability to perform activities of daily living.
Typical Cervical Cancer Clinical Trial Protocol:
Current research is focused on new ways to prevent and treat cervical cancer, vaccine development, drugs that target specific genetic changes that cause a cell to become cancerous, and drug-treatment for pre-cancerous cells. Examples of possible clinical trials include the following:
- A long-term study in which healthy individuals receive a newly developed HPV vaccine and are followed to determine its long-term effects on the risk of cervical cancer.
- A clinical trial designed to determine if a newly-developed drug that blocks a cancer cell’s ability to grow can help women with advanced cervical cancer live longer.
- A clinical trial designed to determine if treatment with high-heat radiofrequency signals directed at the site of the cervical tumor can more effectively prevent the cancer from returning than conventional radiation therapy.
- A clinical trial designed to determine if application to the cervix of a new drug that kills pre-cancerous cervical cells is more effective than standard therapy.
A brief word about randomized trials and placebos:
Many clinical trials, to include clinical trials for cervical cancer, involve the comparison of an investigational treatment to a “standard” treatment. Some studies determine which therapy a patient receives through a process known as randomization, in which patients are randomly assigned to receive either the investigational treatment or the standard treatment.
On occasion, a trial will investigate the use of a standard treatment plus a new drug compared to standard treatment plus a placebo. Placebos are inactive or “sham” treatments that are identical in appearance to the active treatment but have no therapeutic value.
Placebos are necessary to help determine if adverse effects that occur during the clinical trial are the result of the investigational treatment or due to some other factor. They also allow researchers to measure the effects of the active treatment and observe what would have happened without it.
In rare instances where no standard therapy exists, or when a new drug is being evaluated for the first time in a specific cancer, the investigational treatment might be compared to a placebo alone. In these types of trials, those patients who are randomized to the placebo group do not receive an active treatment.
This is rarely done in cancer clinical trials; however it may occasionally be necessary from a scientific standpoint. Placebo-only trials will only be done when ethically appropriate and when patients have been adequately informed that they may end up receiving the placebo rather than the active treatment.
It is very important to note, however, that no one should ever participate in such a placebo trial when there is a widely available and highly effective standard treatment already in existence for their particular type of cancer and clinical situation.
Trial Eligibility and Medical Information Needed:
The type of clinical trial you may be eligible for often depends on many factors, including your disease stage, treatment history, and a variety of clinical findings. Therefore, it is important to know many details pertaining to your specific diagnosis when searching for clinical trials. Examples of the details you will want to have on hand include:
- The name, location, size, stage, and cell type of your cancer, as well as the locations of any metastases you have. Also know these details for any prior cancer you have had.
- Know your performance status, which estimates how well you perform normal activities of daily living. Examples: Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) and the ECOG scale.
- Know your treatment history, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and/or surgery.
- Know your blood cell counts, liver function test results, and kidney function test results.
Suggested Search Terms:
“cervical cancer screening,” “cervical cancer HPV,” “cervical cancer vaccine,” “cervical cancer prevention,” “cervical cancer treatment,” “advanced cervical cancer,” “recurrent cervical cancer,” and “cervical cancer early detection.”
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