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Cancer research trials| are carried out to try to find new and better treatments for different types of cancer, including leukaemia|.
Trials that are carried out on patients are called clinical trials. These may be carried out to:
Trials are the only reliable way to find out if a different type of surgery|, chemotherapy, radiotherapy|, or other treatment is better than what is already available.
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 leukaemia 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.
Blood and bone marrow 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 leukaemia. 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 are 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 leukaemia and its treatment, which will hopefully improve the outlook for future patients.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with CML in the chronic phase|, you may be asked to take part in a trial called SPIRIT 2.
This trial is comparing the targeted therapies imatinib| and dasatinib| to find out which of these drugs is better.
Another trial for people with CML is called the CHOICES trial. This is looking at the benefit of adding a drug called hydroxychloroquine to treatment with imatinib. This trial may be suitable for you if you’ve been treated with imatinib for at least a year but there are still some leukaemia cells in your body.
Your doctor or specialist nurse can give you information about these and other trials that might be suitable.
Content last reviewed: 1 February 2012
Next planned review: 2014
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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