ON THIS PAGE: You will learn more about clinical trials, which are the main way that new medical approaches are tested to see how well they work. Use the menu to see other pages.
What are clinical trials?
Doctors and scientists are always looking for better ways to care for patients with ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer, or peritoneal cancer. To make scientific advances, doctors create research studies involving volunteers, called clinical trials. Every drug that is now approved by the FDA was tested in clinical trials.
Many clinical trials focus on new treatments. Researchers want to learn whether a new treatment is safe, effective, and possibly better than standard treatment. These types of studies evaluate new drugs, different combinations of existing treatments, new approaches to radiation therapy or surgery, and new methods of treatment. Patients who participate in clinical trials can be some of the first to get a treatment before it is available to the public. However, there is no guarantee that the new treatment will be safe, effective, or better than standard treatment.
Some clinical trials study new ways to relieve symptoms and side effects during treatment. Others study ways to manage the late side effects that may happen a long time after treatment. Talk with your doctor about clinical trials for symptoms and side effects. There are also clinical trials studying ways to prevent cancer.
Deciding to join a clinical trial
Patients decide to participate in clinical trials for many reasons. For some patients, a clinical trial is the best treatment option available. Because standard treatments are not perfect, patients are often willing to face the added uncertainty of a clinical trial in the hope of a better result. Other patients volunteer for clinical trials because they know that these studies are an excellent way to contribute to progress in treating ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer, and peritoneal cancer. Even if they do not benefit directly from the clinical trial, their participation may benefit future patients with these cancers.
Sometimes people have concerns that, in a clinical trial, they may receive no treatment by being given a placebo or a “sugar pill.” However, placebos are usually combined with standard treatment in most cancer clinical trials. When a placebo is used in a study, it is done with the full knowledge of the participants. Find out more about placebos in cancer clinical trials.
Patient safety and informed consent
To join a clinical trial, patients must participate in a process known as informed consent. During informed consent, the doctor should list all of the patient’s options so that the person understands how the new treatment differs from the standard treatment. The doctor must list all of the risks of the new treatment, which may or may not be different from the risks of standard treatment. Finally, the doctor must explain what will be required of each patient in order to participate in the clinical trial, including the number of doctor visits, tests, and the schedule of treatment.
Because some of these specific types of cancer of the fallopian tubes are quite rare, specific studies for these diseases are uncommon. However, many clinical trials on ovarian cancer are open to women with these diseases because these diseases often respond to the same treatment.
Patients who participate in a clinical trial may stop participating at any time for any personal or medical reason. This may include that the new treatment is not working or there are serious side effects. Clinical trials are closely monitored by experts who watch for any problems with each study. It is important that patients participating in a clinical trial talk with their doctor and researchers about who will be providing their treatment and care during the clinical trial, after the clinical trial ends, and/or if the patient chooses to leave the clinical trial before it ends.
Finding a clinical trial
Research through clinical trials is ongoing for all types of cancer. For specific topics being studied for ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer, and peritoneal cancer, learn more in the Latest Research section.
Cancer.Net offers a lot of information about cancer clinical trials in other areas of the website, including a complete section on clinical trials and places to search for clinical trials for a specific type of cancer.
This website offers free access to a video-based educational program about cancer clinical trials, located outside of this guide.
The next section in this guide is Latest Research. It explains areas of scientific research currently going on for this type of cancer. You may use the menu to choose a different section to continue reading in this guide.