Common hesitations in Childhood Cancer clinical trials

Today is international childhood cancer awareness day, and clinical studies can play a huge role in the treatment of these diseases, and provide invaluable insight into preventing and treating future cases of cancer. However, many parents hesitate to consent to their child participating in a study, understandably so. Today we’ll break down some of the most common concerns related to involving children in cancer clinical trials.


Lack of Understanding


From diagnosis to deciding on a treatment plan, parents of children with cancer are thrown into a complicated and overwhelming situation without much time to prepare. The medical jargon used to describe clinical studies and other treatment plans is often confusing and makes the decision process harder, and parents can feel like their child is potentially going to be in danger, or will be a “guinea pig“ if they choose to proceed with a clinical study.


It’s important to know that childhood cancer patients who are involved in clinical studies will most likely be involved in Phase III trials, which occur after a treatment has been tested for safety and compare a traditional treatment with a new one. These trials are aimed at improving survival rates and decreasing symptoms.


Fear of Additional Suffering


When faced with a new cancer diagnosis, many parents have to make the decision of how to treat their child rather quickly. There’s a lot of fear surrounding this choice, and possibly choosing the option that will put their child through more pain without significant results.


Uncertainty around Treatment Protocol


When a child begins a Phase III clinical study, they are randomly assigned to either the traditional treatment arm, or the new one. The child’s physician doesn’t know which arm the child will be in, or which treatment will have a better outcome -- and this uncertainty can be very disconcerting for parents who want to do what is best for their child.


The importance of clinical trials in Childhood Cancer


While all of these concerns are completely understandable, it can help to understand the impact that clinical trials can have on children now and in the future. Pediatric oncology is often a combination of research and care, and clinical trials remain a key factor in improved treatment and better prognosis. Helping parents understand this and weigh the benefits and risks of clinical trials fairly can best be achieved through simpler communication. Parents often report that the decision process can be improved by providing enough information without being overwhelming, speaking in simple and understandable language, and staggering the consent process over the course of several meetings.


Want to keep learning about Clinical Studies?


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Since 2015, our team has been hard at work raising awareness of clinical trials across the globe. A Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ company and a graduate of the renowned Techstar program in New York, Citruslabs is at the forefront of patient recruitment and retention technologies. With over 3 million patients now recorded on our databases, our patient recruitment dashboard is fast becoming the most efficient method of trial recruitment.

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