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CML Treatment: Time to Consider a Clinical Trial?

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WebMD Medical Reference
Reviewed by Sujana Movva, MD

Wondering if a clinical trial for CML treatment is a good option for you? Here’s some information to help you decide. 

What Is a CML Clinical Trial?

It’s a research study that's done to see if a new drug is safe and effective or is better than what’s already in use.

Clinical trials may test a drug or treatment to see if it:

  • Prevents side effects
  • Keeps CML from returning
  • Helps people who haven’t had good results from standard treatment

Clinical trials rarely use placebos (inactive or “fake” treatments sometimes used in other trials).

What Are the Benefits?

A clinical trial may offer new treatment options that improve your quality of life or prolong your life.

Clinical trials follow strict guidelines to ensure they are safe and that the risks don't outweigh potential benefits.

A treatment that proves safe and effective could be approved by the FDA and made available to other people. Gleevec (imatinib), a commonly used treatment, was first introduced in clinical trials.

What Are the Downsides?

There are no guarantees. Even if other people benefit, the treatment may not work for you.

Other concerns include:

  • Side effects or complications
  • Taking part may require travel
  • You may not know the type of treatment you're taking. But the researchers will tell you the trial is set up this way before you join.
  • Insurance may not cover all the costs. Talk with study coordinators and your insurer before you join.

Who Can Participate?

Researchers decide who is eligible for the trial. Factors can include:

  • Age
  • The phase of your CML, whether chronic, accelerated, or blast crisis
  • Treatments you’re taking or have taken
  • Other illnesses or conditions

In many cases, participants must try standard treatment first, because treatment for CML has become more effective in recent years. But not all clinical trials are just for advanced disease.

Should You Join?

This is not an easy decision. You might be considering a clinical trial because other treatment hasn't worked, or because you need relief from side effects or complications from standard treatment.

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