A clinical trial is a research study designed to evaluate potential new treatment options. These studies are the result of a long and deliberate cancer research process that often takes years. Clinical trials test the safety and effectiveness of new or modified cancer drugs, new drug doses, unique approaches to surgery or radiation therapy, and varied combinations of treatments. Clinical trials are an integral component for improving the treatment of medical conditions because they lead to higher standards of care. In the United States all new cancer treatment products must proceed through an orderly clinical trials evaluation process to ensure that they have an acceptable level of safety and demonstrate benefit to helping patients with a specific cancer before they become commercially available to other patients.
Clinical trials essentially fall into two general categories.
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