Join Testicular Cancer Clinical Trials
Testicular cancer is relatively rare in the United States, and will affect approximately 8,500 men in 2012; however, it is the most common cancer diagnosed between men ages 15 and 34 in the United States. The good news is that it has a low mortality rate and is highly treatable when detected early, and even when it has spread to other areas of the body.
Such encouraging statistics might lead people to assume that there is little research being done in relation to testicular cancer; fortunately, that is not the case. Researchers are working hard to discover more about why it develops, better ways to prevent it, and how to refine and further improve the already-highly-effective treatments that are available.
What Will Testicular Cancer Clinical Trials Be Like?
When participating in a testicular cancer clinical trial, 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 testicular cancer clinical trials:
- Physical exam
- Testicular ultrasound
- Blood tests to detect elevated levels of certain substances (generically referred to as tumor markers) that, when elevated, may indicate the presence of testicular cancer.
- 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.
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scan, which is an imaging procedure that uses a radioactive sugar injected into the blood through a vein in the arm. This substance attaches to cancer cells in the body, making them visible when viewed by a special camera.
- 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.
- Sexual functioning assessments to evaluate how your treatment is impacting your ability to perform sexually, your fertility, or both.
- Pain assessments
Typical Protocol for Testicular Cancer Clinical Trials:
Research is underway to determine what causes testicular cancer to develop, ways to prevent it from occurring, and better methods of treating it. Sample clinical trials might include the following:
- A long-term study that investigates whether young men who have a specific combination of genetic mutations linked with an increased risk of testicular cancer have a higher rate of developing the disease than young men who do not have the genetic mutations.
- A study in which men with testicular cancer donate a sample of their tumor tissue for study in order for researchers to determine if the presence of certain genetic mutations in their tumors is related to their overall response to chemotherapy.
- A clinical trial in which researchers tailor chemotherapy doses given to treat testicular cancer based on observed changes in specific tumor markers during the course of therapy. This trial might then go on to see if the long-term survival of patients was related to individual treatment characteristics.
- A clinical trial in which a new chemotherapy drug is given to men with advanced testicular cancer and compared to men who receive standard chemotherapy to determine if a) the new drug results in fewer side effects and b) if it is equally as effective as the standard treatment.
- A long-term study that follows men who were treated for testicular cancer to determine the impact it has on their fertility over a ten-year period by monitoring sperm cell counts and quality.
A brief word about randomized trials and placebos:
Many clinical trials 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 for Testicular Cancer Clinical Trials:
“testicular cancer treatment,” “testicular cancer chemotherapy,” “testicular cancer radiation therapy,” “testicular cancer management,” “testicular cancer surgery,” “advanced testicular cancer,” “testicular cancer hormone therapy,” “testicular cancer screening,” “testicular cancer side effects,” “testicular cancer quality of life,” “testicular cancer fertility,” and “testicular cancer infertility.”
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