Questions to Ask
Clinical trials are not the best option for everyone, but it is important for women with ovarian cancer to know all the choices available to them in deciding on the appropriate care and treatment.
Many patients and organizations, including the National Cancer Institute, suggest the following tips when asking your doctor questions. These are not just for questions about clinical trials, but can be useful for organizing all kinds of information in discussions with your doctor.
- Write down the questions you want to ask before the visit.
- Bring a pad and pen to write down your doctor’s responses or ask a friend to come and take notes for you.
- Consider bringing a tape recorder even if you also take notes.
- Do not hesitate to ask your doctor to clarify or simplify the information if it is too technical or you do not understand terms.
- If new questions come up during the visit, be sure to ask them. Do not worry about asking too many questions.
How to Talk to Your Doctor
For many women, it may be daunting to even determine what options exist. The first question you ask your doctor about clinical trials should be “Are there clinical trials that might be right for me?” As you explore your options, more questions will come up. The National Cancer Institute has put together a useful resource to assist you, Participating in a Trial: Questions to Ask Your Doctor. This resource lists a range of sample questions that many people have about clinical trials. It is a good starting point for women who want to put together a list of questions to ask their own doctor.
Questions to Ask Yourself
As you gather all the information from your doctor, it is important to ask yourself some questions and weigh the potential risks and benefits that may come from participating in a trial.
List all the potential risk and benefits you see and those your doctor has raised. Think about your own personal issues and concerns, such as your time or any logistics you might have to coordinate (for example, time off from work or transportation needs), and not just the medical issues related to the trial. The following list of pros and cons may help you to create your own. Do the benefits outweigh the risks for you?
- Receive, at a minimum, the best known treatment for their cancer
- May have access to latest advances
- Could be among the first to benefit if the new treatment or intervention works
- Help others and improve the future of ovarian cancer care
- May receive high quality care, since participants are often more closely monitored than in standard care
- “Latest advances” are not always better than, or even as good as, the standard of care
- Cannot choose the treatment you receive in randomized trials
- Even if a new treatment has benefits, it may not work for every woman
- May experience unexpected side effects
- Study may require extra appointments or tests
- Health insurance does not always cover all patient care costs in a study; usually any extra costs are paid by the research program
- Consider what your thoughts and beliefs are about clinical research. Will participation make you feel better or worse about your disease?
- For treatment trials, consider whether getting the experimental treatment in addition to standard of care is better than the standard of care alone.
- How much time are you willing to give to any extra medical visits or coordination associated with the trial?
Taking part in a clinical trial is your choice and you should thoroughly explore any issues or concerns you have before making a decision.
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