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Leaders in Personalized Precision Medicine

Terms to Know 

Bias – Human choices or any other factors beside the treatments being tested that affect a study’s results. 

Clinical Trials – Clinical trials are research studies that test new cancer drugs, treatments, diagnostic procedures and therapies on humans. Before any new medication is made available to the public, it must undergo a clinical trial. Clinical trials are strictly monitored and carefully evaluated, and test the therapy’s safety and efficacy.Your oncologist and the highly skilled physicians at Scottsdale Healthcare Research Institute will help you determine if you should participate in a clinical trial. 

Control group – In a clinical trial, the group of people that receives standard treatment for their cancer. 

Informed consent – The process in which a person learns key facts about a clinical trial or research study and then agrees voluntarily to take part or decides against it. This process includes signing a form that describes the benefits and risks that may occur if the person decides to take part. 

Institutional Review Board (IRB) – Groups of scientists, doctors, clergy and consumers at each health care facility at which clinical trial takes place. Designed to protect patients who take part in studies, IRBs review and must approve the protocols for all clinical trials funded by the Federal Government. They check to see that the study is well-designed, does not involve undue risks, and includes safeguards for patients. 

Investigator – A researcher in a treatment study. 

Oncologist – A doctor who specializes in treating cancer. 

Placebo – A tablet, capsule or injection that looks like a drug or other substance being tested but contains no drug. 

Protocol – An action plan for a clinical trial. The plan states what will be done in the study and why. It outlines how many people will take part in the study, what types of patients may take part, what tests they will receive and how often, and the treatment plan. 

Randomization – A method used to prevent bias in research. People are assigned by chance to either the treatment or control group. 

Remission – When the signs and symptoms of cancer go away, the disease is said to be “in remission.” A remission can be temporary or permanent. 

Side effects – Problems that occur when the treatment affects healthy cells. Common side effects of standard cancer treatments are fatigue, nausea, vomiting, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss, and mouth sores. New treatments being tested may have these or other unknown side effects. Single blind study – A method used to prevent bias in treatment studies. In a single blind study, the patient is not told whether he/she is taking the standard treatment or the new treatment being tested. Only the doctors know. 

Stage – The extent of a cancer and whether the disease has spread from the original site to other part of the body. Numbers with or without letters are used to define cancer stages. 

Standard treatment – The best treatment currently known for a cancer, based on results of past research. 

Treatment group – The group that receives the new treatment being tested during the study.