Research - clinical trials for primary bone cancer
Cancer research trials are carried out to try to find new and better treatments for cancer. Trials that are carried out on patients are known as clinical trials.
Clinical trials may be carried out to:
test new treatments, such as new chemotherapy drugs, gene therapy or cancer vaccines
look at new combinations of existing treatments, or change the way they are given, to make them more effective or reduce side effects
compare the effectiveness of drugs used to control symptoms
find out how cancer treatments work
find out which treatments are the most cost-effective.
Trials are the only reliable way to find out whether a different type of surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or other treatment is better than what is already available.
Taking part in a trial
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You may be asked to take part in a treatment research trial, and there can be many benefits in doing this. Trials help to improve knowledge about cancer and develop new treatments.
You will be carefully monitored during and after the study. Usually, several hospitals around the country take part in these trials. It’s important to bear in mind that some treatments that look promising at first are often later found to be less effective than existing treatments, or to have side effects that outweigh the benefits.
If you decide not to take part in a trial, your decision will be respected and you do not have to give a reason. There will be no change in the way you are treated by the hospital staff and you’ll be offered the standard treatment for your situation.
The process of clinical trials is described in more detail in our section on cancer research trials.
Blood and tumour samples
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When you’re being diagnosed with primary bone cancer, many blood and tumour samples may be taken. You may be asked for your permission to use some of your samples for research into cancer. If you take part in a trial you may also give other samples, which may be frozen and stored for future use when new research techniques become available. Your name will be removed from the samples so you can’t be identified.
The research may be carried out at the hospital where you’re treated, or at another one. This type of research takes a long time, and results may not be available for many years. The samples will be used to increase knowledge about the causes of cancer and its treatment, which will hopefully improve the outlook for future patients.
As bone cancers are rare, trials are usually organised by specialists from many countries working together, and may take years to complete. Clinical trials for osteosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma are especially important, so that more people can be cured of them. Your hospital doctor will be able to tell you whether there are any trials such as the Euro-Ewing 99 trial that may be suitable for you.
Euro-Ewing 99 trial
If you have Ewing’s sarcoma you may be asked to take part in the Euro-Ewing 99 trial. People with a Ewing’s sarcoma are usually treated with chemotherapy first, followed by surgery, radiotherapy and more chemotherapy. The Euro-Ewing 99 trial is looking at using different combinations of chemotherapy and high-dose treatment with a stem cell transplant. Your doctor or specialist nurse will explain the different treatments if this trial is appropriate to you. We have more information on high-dose treatment with stem cell support.