Clinical trials are an important way that new approaches and treatments for NETs and other diseases can be tested to ensure that they not only work well, but also that they can be given to patients safely.
There are four main phases of clinical trials, which usually start by testing an experimental medicine or procedure in a small group of healthy people or patients before seeing if it works in the group of patients it is intended for.
These trials are only conducted after several years of rigorous assessment in the laboratory and in animal studies, and after appropriate approval from regulatory authorities such as the European Medicines Agency in Europe.
A small number of people with no health problems are given the experimental medicine or undergo the experimental procedure to check that it is not harmful and could potentially work in people.
A slightly larger group of healthy people, patients, or both are given the medicine. This is to again check the safety of the approach and to find out how much of the experimental medicine is needed to have an effect, or to check that the approach is feasible and works.
This is an important phase of clinical testing as now the medicine or approach is given to a large number of patients with the disease and compared against a placebo (no treatment) or another standard of care. This is to prove that the treatment works and that it would be safe to give to a wider population of patients.
These trials are conducted after a medicine or approach has been approved for use by the regulatory authority of a country. Phase 4 trials look at long-term safety and effectiveness, and gather more information on the benefit and risk, and how to optimise the use of a medicine or approach.
People participate in clinical trials for many reasons from simply wanting to help others and contribute to advancing medical knowledge to potentially being able to receive the latest treatment for a disease. Clinical trials are often a way to receive the latest treatments and approaches before they become widely available.
If you would like to participate in a clinical trial, talk to a member of your healthcare team as they will be able to advise you on whether or not you would be able to do so, and if there are trials in your area that you could join.
Your specialist NETs doctor or other member of your multidisciplinary team will also be able to talk you through exactly what would be involved in a clinical trial to make sure you fully understand what would happen if you agreed to participate.
Your national patient support group may also be able to guide you on where clinical trials in NETs are being conducted in your area.
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