Doctors all over the country are conducting many types of clinical trials. These are research studies in which people take part voluntarily. Studies include new ways to treat melanomas. Research already has led to advances, and researchers continue to search for more effective approaches.
Patients who join these studies have the first chance to benefit from treatments that have shown promise in earlier research. They also make an important contribution to medical science by helping doctors learn more about the disease. Although clinical trials may pose some risks, researchers take very careful steps to protect their patients.
Researchers are testing new anticancer drugs. They are looking at combining chemotherapy with radiation therapy. Other studies are combining chemotherapy with biological therapy. Scientists also are studying several cancer vaccines and a type of gene therapy designed to help the immune system kill cancer cells.
Patients who are interested in being part of a clinical trial should talk with their doctor. They may want to read the NCI booklet Taking Part in Cancer Treatment Research Studies. It explains how clinical trials are carried out and explains their possible benefits and risks. NCI’s Web site includes a section on clinical trials at http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials. This section of the Web site provides general information about clinical trials. It also offers detailed information about ongoing studies of melanoma treatment by linking to PDQ®, a cancer information database developed by the NCI. The Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER can answer questions and provide information from the PDQ database.