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Clinical trials provide individuals with cancer access to the newest types of treatment. These trials are studies of new therapies to determine whether a medication is safe and effective. Generally, clinical trials compare new treatment with current therapies. Clinical trials may assess new medications and new combinations of treatments. This may include combinations of medications, and combinations of radiation, biological therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy.

Clinical trial participation is often offered to people with high-risk stage 2, stage 3, or stage 4 melanoma. People with persistent or recurrent melanoma may also be offered clinical trial participation. There may be clinical trials in melanoma available in your area.

By taking part in a clinical trial: you could be among the first to benefit from a new treatment. Although there is no guarantee of the outcome, the treatment being tested may prove to be as effective or more effective than the standard treatment available for your cancer at this time. Talk to your doctor if you are interested in being part of a clinical trial.

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Melanoma Clinical Trial Finder

Melanoma Canada’s clinical trial finder connects patients and physicians exploring treatment options with clinical trials, using transformational clinical trial matching technology. Our clinical trial finder uses questionnaires that patients complete to pull clinical trials that are a preliminary match based on diagnosis, stage, etc. Location filters are available to limit to results to your geographic area. Our comprehensive questionnaire helps produce the most accurate clinical trials list for the patient, making the navigation process quick and easy!


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Phases of Clinical Trials

Clinical trials for new cancer treatments are tested in series of steps, called phases. If a new treatment is successful in one phase, it will proceed to further testing in the next phase. During the early phases (phases 1 and 2), researchers take the time to figure out whether a new treatment is safe, what its side effects are, and the best dose of the new treatment. They also make sure that the treatment has some benefit, such as slowing tumor growth. In the later phase (phase 3), researchers study whether the treatment works better than the current standard therapy. They also compare the safety of the new treatment with that of current treatments. Phase 3 trials include large numbers of people to make sure that the result is valid.

Clinical Trials

Study Phases

Phase 1

Phase I trials look at how safe a treatment is and try to determine the best dose. Phase I trials may also test an already approved drug or therapy to try to improve its effectiveness or see if it can be used in a different way.

Number of people taking part: 15–30

phase I trial tries to find out:

+ How the new treatment should be given (by mouth, in a vein, etc.)

+ The safest dosage and the highest dose a person can tolerate

+ How the new treatment affects the human body and fights cancer

+ What side effects people taking the drug or treatment experience

Phase 2

Phase II trials test the effectiveness of the drug based on the dose which was determined safe in a phase I. Phase II trials may also compare different schedules of giving the treatment.

Number of people taking part: Less than 100

phase 2 trial tries to find out:

+ If the new treatment has an effect on a certain cancer

+ How the new treatment affects the body and fights cancer

+ How safe the drug is

phase 3

A phase III trial provides a detailed evaluation of a promising new treatment identified during a phase II trial. It compares the new treatment to the best current standard of cancer treatment. Researchers may test a drug alone or in combination with another drug or form of treatment.

Number of people taking part: From 100 to several thousand

phase 3 trial compare

+ the new treatment (or new use of a treatment) with the current standard treatment

+ Side effects of the new treatment and the standard treatment

Phase 4

Phase IV trials gather more information about the possible risks and benefits of a drug that didn’t show up in earlier testing. Researchers look into risks and benefits that could be associated with long-term effects after a drug or treatment has been approved for clinical use.

phase 4

Some researchers design trials that combine two phases (phase 1/2 or phase 2/3 trials) in a single protocol. In this combined design, there is a seamless transition between trial phases, which may allow research questions to be answered more quickly or with fewer patients.


Trials And Tribulations Of A Cancer Journey

Certified Cancer Coach Mary Zawadzki shares finding the joy in every day as part of the journey and when do patients really start to look at clinical trial options? This is “trials and tribulations of a cancer journey”.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • Are any clinical trials available that I could take part in?
  • What is the purpose of the study?
  • What tests and treatments are part of the study?
  • What does the treatment do?
  • Has the treatment been tested before?
  • For what types of cancer?
  • Will I know which treatment I receive?
  • What is likely to happen to me with, or without, this new treatment?
  • What are my other options?
  • What are their benefits and risks?
  • What does taking part in the study mean to my daily life?
  • Can I expect side effects during the study? Can they be prevented or treated?
  • Does the study involve a hospital stay? If so, how often and for how long?
  • Will taking part in the study increase my chance of recovery?
  • Does the study include follow-up care?

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Melanoma & Skin Cancer Clinical Trial Finder

The Melanoma Canada clinical trial finder is designed to connect patients with clinical trials using a matching technology, that transforms your eligibility criteria and answers to a questionnaire, into a database of preliminary study matches.


Other Ways To Find Clinical Trials In Canada

  • Canadian Cancer Trials
  • Heal Mary
  • National Cancer Institute Clinical Trials
  • Health Canada Clinical Trial Search