Dealing with cancer, even the hereditary threat of the disease, can be daunting. Clinical trials can offer help and hope. But how do people know whether a clinical trial is right for them?
"A lot of people are unsure of what a clinical trial is," said Dr. Elvis Donaldson, right, director of oncology services at Central Baptist Hospital. They wonder, he said, "Are they going to make a guinea pig out of me, or are they going to use a drug that they've never used before?"
Central Baptist is offering a free seminar to explain how trials work and how people can get involved.
As much as 90 percent of traditional clinical trials have been conducted at university-affiliated hospitals, Donaldson said, and there "has been this push to develop clinic trials outside academia and in the community."
At Central Baptist, there are about 40 cancer trials under way, he said. But the information at the seminar will apply to clinical trials in any settings.
Trials can be conducted on drugs, procedures or surgeries. And they can involve new techniques or medicines aimed at curing and preventing disease.
So, depending on the type of trial, it might be appropriate for someone who has been diagnosed or someone with a strong family history of a disease who is looking at prevention.
It's important that people understand that trials are voluntary, and they can opt out at any time, he said.
The seminar is for "anybody in the public who feels they want to learn about how medicine is developed."
The benefit, he said, is that "you have the opportunity to be exposed to cutting-edge medications and treatment."
Plus, trials help advance treatment that might help others, he said.