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Cancer Research Programs

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are a type of research study that test new medical approaches to screening, prevention, and diagnosing cancer. For cancer patients, participation in a clinical trial may result in an improved chance for survival or a better quality of life. Patients who volunteer to be a part of a clinical trial are often the first to benefit from exciting, new research breakthroughs, but as with any new medicine or therapy, there may also be risks. The specialists at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center (SKCC) medical team can advise you about the pros and cons, your eligibility and if one of our available trials might benefit you, depending on your type or stage of cancer.

Through our advanced clinical trials, we're continually working to find the next breakthrough in cancer treatment.

By conducting more than 120 clinical trials at any given time, we're helping to shape the future of cancer care. Our advanced clinical trials – available at multiple Jefferson Health locations – allow us to explore new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer. Patients who volunteer to be a part of a clinical trial are often the first to benefit from promising new cancer treatments.

Is a clinical trial right for you?
Ultimately, only you and your Jefferson Health cancer care team can determine if one of our clinical trials is an appropriate option for you. Our team will walk you through the key things you should consider, including the criteria for open trials, which may include your age, what type and stage of cancer you have, any previous treatments you have undergone, and any other medical conditions.


Clinical Trial Types

Clinical trials are the best way physicians have to translate scientific developments into treatments. Each type of clinical trial has a specific purpose:

  • Screening Trials look for ways to detect cancer before a person shows signs and symptoms of cancer.
  • Prevention Trials test methods for reducing the chances of getting cancer. Most people who take part in these trials are healthy, but may have an increased risk of developing cancer, or for preventing cancer from recurring in patients who have had cancer or have an increased risk of developing a second cancer.
  • Diagnostic Trials are for people who have signs and symptoms of cancer. This type of trial looks at ways to detect cancer at an earlier stage.
  • Therapeutic Trials look for new medicines, combination of medicines, radiation, and methods for treating cancer.
  • Quality of Life Trials look for ways to improve comfort and quality of life for cancer patients and survivors.
  • Genetics Trials- are sometimes part of one of the above trials. This area of the trial may look at how your family genes may affect preventing cancer as well as diagnosing and treating cancer.   


Clinical Trial Phases

Most therapeutic research involving the testing of new drugs is conducted in highly regulated phases that study dosage, safety, efficacy and long-term side effects:

  • Phase I Trials – Evaluate how a new drug should be given, e.g. orally or intravenously; usually on a small number of patients.
  • Phase II Trials – Test drug safety and how well the new drug works; usually focusing on a particular type of cancer.
  • Phase III Trials – Test new drugs or surgical procedures in comparison to the current standard; often including a large number of patients who are assigned to either the standard or new group.
  • Phase IV Trials – Evaluate side effects, risks and benefits of a drug over a longer period of time; usually a larger number of people than in Phase III. 


Clinical Trial Benefits

Clinical trials offer hope for many cancer patients and their families. Patients who join clinical trials will receive the standard medicine and leading-edge protocols for their cancer. In addition, patients may receive a new medication that is only available to cancer patients who voluntarily agree to join the trial. If the patient agrees to take part in the trial there may be no direct benefit to the patient. However, the information that is collected could benefit others. Patients who participate in trials will closely be monitored by their cancer doctors and the research team. Doctors want to collect as much information as possible on the treatment and how patients are affected by the medication. This may mean that extra tests or doctor visits maybe required.

Besides the Patient’s Doctors and Cancer Team, Who Looks Out For the Patient?

Every study is closely reviewed by and monitored by a team of doctors, nurses, patient advocates, patients and individuals from the local community, to ensure that the clinical trials are run in a safe and fair manner. This team is called an Instructional Review Board (IRB).

Is Participation in a Cancer Clinical Trial Right for You?
There’s no doubt that volunteering to take part in a cancer clinical trial is a big decision for you, your family and your caregivers. You undoubtedly will have many questions ranging from what rights and protections you have what costs are covered by insurance, to how long will the trial last. Rest assured, the SKCC Clinical Research Organization office can answer your questions and help you navigate through your options. Our main goal is to find the best treatment for you.