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Typically, a new treatment is tested on cancer cells in a laboratory. If testing is deemed successful, there may be testing on animals, followed by testing on people. Ultimately, it must be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
During a clinical trial, research is done on people who volunteer to help doctors find ways to treat a disease or improve care.
The cancer society urges people to consider these factors when evaluating a new therapy:
- Was the treatment tested in the lab (on cells in a dish, called in vitro), in animals, and in people)?
- Who or what conducted the study?
- Are there other studies that were done that support the same outcome?
- If the study was done in people, how many were involved? How long were they followed?
- Was there a difference in outcome between the group taking standard treatment and the group taking the new treatment?
- Was the study published in a respected, peer-reviewed journal, or was it presented at a conference or described in a press release?
- Has the treatment been approved by the FDA?
- If the treatment hasn't been approved, is it available through compassionate use? (Compassionate drug use is when seriously-ill patients use an unapproved drug when no other treatment is available).
- What's known about the treatment's side effects?
- Is the treatment safe to use along with other therapies I'm using?
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