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Clinical Trials 101

Types Of Clinical Trials

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The purpose of the trial varies according to the type of trial. However, all clinical trials are subject to the same tough controls aimed at protecting participants. In addition to trials that test the effectiveness of a new medication or treatment, clinical trials may also include the following:

Adjuvant Therapy

  • Adjuvant therapy can be defined as combining two treatments together in order to improve treatment outcome.  The purpose of adjuvant therapy trials are to determine if an additional treatment used with a proven treatment might improve effectiveness.
  • For example, the standard treatment for a particular kind of cancer may be surgery.  One group of patients may receive the standard surgical procedure and the other group may receive surgery in combination with chemotherapy. 
  • If the study proves that a combination of the two treatments is more effective than surgery alone, a combination of surgery plus chemotherapy might become the new standard treatment for that condition.
  • Adjuvant therapy studies are conducted using three phase trials.

Prevention Studies

  • Prevention studies are conducted on participants who may have an increased risk (such as from a family history) for developing certain conditions, such as heart disease or cancer.
  • These studies compare a group of people receiving no treatment, to a group that is prescribed a particular drug or change in lifestyle, such as diet.
  • Both groups may be monitored for many years to determine the effectiveness of a preventive treatment. These trials are not usually conducted in phases.

Early Detection Studies

  • Early detection studies assess the effectiveness of methods used for the screening and detection of a particular condition. An example would be the use of mammograms to detect breast cancer. Often conditions that are found early in their development are more easily treated or cured.  

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