In most trials, one group of patients will have the trial treatment and one group will have the standard treatment. The people having the trial treatment are called the trial group and the people having the standard treatment are the control group.
The results of both groups are compared to:
- see if there is any benefit from the new treatment
- see if the side effects are better, worse or different
- measure how much of the improvement in the patients is due to the new treatment and how much would have happened by chance or is due to standard treatment.
Sometimes standard treatment is to ‘watch and wait’. This means that no treatment is given unless the cancer starts to develop or cause symptoms.