CSU Animal Cancer Center
Clinical Trial Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is a clinical trial?
Clinical trials are research studies. They are used in all specialties of medicine to evaluate new types of treatment. Clinical trials may be designed to determine the anti-cancer effects and side effects of new drugs, new surgical procedures, new radiation therapy procedures, or novel approaches to treatment (such as gene therapy or immunotherapy).
2. Who is eligible to participate in clinical trials?
Each clinical trial will have specific eligibility criteria that need to be fulfilled in order for a pet to participate, and these vary among studies. Some clinical trials are designed for animals with a specific cancer diagnosis (i.e. lymphoma), while others are open to animals with a variety of cancer types. In general, animals need to be feeling relatively well overall and be otherwise healthy with no significant concurrent medical issues in order to qualify for clinical trials. In addition, the owners must be willing to comply with study protocols and commit to coming into the clinic for the visits that are required by the trial.
3. Why would I want to enroll my pet in a clinical trial?
There are a number of reasons that owners decide to enroll their pets in clinical trials. Some of these include:
- Opportunity to receive a new treatment that is not currently available, which may have treatment effects similar or superior to the standard of care for that tumor type
- Financial incentives
- Treatments and/or diagnostics associated with the study often paid for by the clinical trial
- Some trials have additional financial incentives at the conclusion of study that can be applied to further treatment for your animal
- Contribution to research with potential benefit for animals and/or humans in the future
4. What are some potential disadvantages of enrolling my pet in a clinical trial?
Some potential disadvantages/risks of enrollment in a clinical trial are listed below:
- The treatment given as part of the clinical trial may not have any effect against your pet’s cancer
- New drugs can have unknown side effects that could be severe
- In the case of some trials, more complete and more intensive cancer staging may be required to determine whether your pet is eligible for a trial
- Additional visits and/or diagnostics may be required (blood samples, biopsies, etc.) as part of the study protocol
If you are considering enrolling your pet in a clinical trial, all the potential risks associated with that particular study will be explained in detail.
5. If my pet is enrolled in a clinical trial, how long will he/she stay on the clinical trial?
The length of time a pet participates in a clinical trial varies depending on the type of trial. Some studies have a defined study length (i.e. 7 days, 4 weeks) and your pet will come off of the clinical trial once that time point is reached. With other clinical trials, your pet may stay on the trial indefinitely and would only be removed if your pet’s cancer is progressing or if your pet is experiencing significant side effects. The duration of the specific trial your pet is enrolled in will be explained by a member of the Clinical Trials team.
6. What if my pet is enrolled in a clinical trial and then I decide I don’t want to participate anymore? Will I have to pay back the money for the treatment the study has covered?
You may decide to withdraw your pet from a clinical trial at any time. You will not be penalized for this decision and will not be required to pay for any treatment that the study has covered. However, you will be responsible for the costs of any treatment pursued once your pet is no longer enrolled in a clinical trial. Your oncology clinician may also stop your pet from continued participation in a clinical trial at any time if he/she believes it is in your pet’s best interest, if the trial is discontinued, or if the trial protocol is not followed.
7. Can you determine if my pet will be eligible for a clinical trial before I come to CSU?
No, your pet must be evaluated by a member of the Clinical Trials team before we can confirm eligibility. We can sometimes determine that your pet is NOT eligible for a trial before coming in based on diagnostics done by your regular veterinarian and/or speaking directly with your veterinarian. We cannot guarantee that your pet will be able to enroll in a clinical trial until you and your pet come to CSU for an appointment.
8. How do I find out if there are trials available at CSU for which my pet may qualify?
Information about all of the clinical trials that are currently enrolling patients is available on the Clinical Trials page of the CSU Flint Animal Cancer Center webpage: http://www.csuanimalcancercenter.org/clinical-trials
If you wish to speak directly with someone on the clinical trials service about study eligibility for your pet, you can use our online consult service: http://www.csuanimalcancercenter.org/consult-service
If you would like information about cancer clinical trials at other institutions, please visit: http://www.avma.org/findvetstudies