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As a participant, what do you need to know about clinical trial results?

If you have taken part in a clinical trial for cancer research, it can take some time before you will be informed of the results. To be relevant, the research needs to be meticulous and to evaluate the efficacy of a particular treatment in a number of situations.


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Patience is required, as generally, it takes at least a year before results are released, and even these may only be an interim or partial analysis. For many trials, it can between two and five years to receive the results of a trial, and in some instances, it could take up to a decade.

Significant factors

When scientists are looking at trial results they are on the alert for what are generally referred to as end points. Examples of these include examining the response to a treatment. If a cancer or a tumour has diminished in size then this is a response that can be measured. Another example is whether the cancer begins to get bigger again, and how long that might take, yielding a measure of how long the treatment lasts.

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Unfortunately, some trials never yield useful data. However, if this appears to be the case, then this will be announced. Sometimes this happens when the trial group is not large enough. In some cases, no reason is given for the absence of quantifiable results. Cancer research and sourcing the right scientific staffing solutions can be extremely costly. Fears have been expressed that Britons voting for the UK to leave the European Union could have an effect on all kinds of medical research and the way clinical trials are conducted, as detailed in this report from the BBC.

Effects on the outcomes

A number of variables can affect the length of time it takes to get results. These include what the research is attempting to determine in terms of perhaps a rare cancer or the cause of a cancer, and how many patients are participating in the research. Looking at the causes or ways to prevent cancer can take a great deal of time because follow up studies may be needed for decades.

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