Research - clinical trials for secondary 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 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.
Taking part in a trial
You may be asked to take part in a treatment research trial. 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 not as good as 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. However, it can help to let the staff know your concerns so that they can give you the best advice. 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, bone marrow and tumour samples
These 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’re taking 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. These samples will not have your name on them, 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, so you’re unlikely to hear the results. The samples will, however, be used to increase knowledge about the causes of cancer and its treatment. This research will hopefully improve the outlook for future patients.
Radium-223 is a new radioisotope treatment for secondary cancer in the bone. It’s still being researched and is only available as part of a trial. It has mainly been used to treat bone secondaries from prostate cancer, but trials are also looking at its effect on breast cancer that has spread to the bones.
Radium-223 is given as an injection into a vein. The injections are usually repeated every four weeks for up to about six months. So far, it has caused only mild side effects.
Your specialist will be able to give you more information about current trials using radium-223 and whether any are suitable for you.