Research - clinical trials for brain tumours
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 to reduce side effects
compare the effectiveness of drugs used to control symptoms
find out how cancer treatments work
see which treatments are the most cost-effective.
Trials are the only reliable way to find out if a different operation, type of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or other treatment is better than what’s already available.
Taking part in a trial
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You may be asked to take part in a clinical trial and there can be many benefits in doing this. Trials help to improve knowledge about brain tumours and develop new treatments.
You’ll also 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 don’t have to give a reason. There will be no change in the way that you’re treated by the hospital staff and you’ll be offered the standard treatment for your situation.
Blood and tumour samples
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Many blood and tumour samples may be taken to help make the right diagnosis. 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 be asked to 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 are treated, or it may be at another hospital. 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.
If you have an anaplastic glioma you may be asked to take part in a trial that looks at using the chemotherapy drug temozolomide with radiotherapy.
Some people in the trial will just have radiotherapy, others will be given temozolomide during the course of their radiotherapy treatment, and others will have the chemotherapy after the radiotherapy has finished.
Another trial, for people with a high-grade glioma, is looking at how the tumour behaves. Doctors often treat high-grade gliomas in the same way. It is hoped that knowing more about how the tumour behaves will help doctors to plan the most appropriate treatment. The trial will also be looking to further develop MRI scans to help doctors decide on the best treatments.
Your doctor or specialist nurse can give you information about these trials and other trials that might be suitable.