If your treatment for B-cell lymphoma isn't working, you may want to join a clinical trial. It's a type of study that helps researchers learn whether a new medicine or device works and if it's safe to use.
Benefits of a Trial
When you sign up for a trial, you may get to try an experimental drug that isn't available to everyone. And you'll also have the satisfaction of knowing that you're helping doctors find new ways of treating other people with your condition.
In many clinical trials, researchers will pay for the new treatment and any tests you have to take. Sometimes trials also cover transportation and hotel costs if you have to travel far from your home to take part in the research.
How to Find Clinical Trials for B-cell Lymphoma
Your first step is to talk to your doctor about whether a clinical trial is a good idea for you. He can help you find out if there's one taking place nearby and if it's a good fit.
If your doctor doesn't know of any clinical trials, or if you'd like to cast a wider net, there are many online resources that can help. One tool is the Jason Carter Clinical Trials Program. It has a website that lets you search for clinical trials for blood cancers and blood disorders, including B-cell lymphoma.
You can also look at ClinicalTrials.gov, a national database run by the National Institutes of Health. Use it to search for lymphoma clinical trials as well as studies on other conditions.
If you'd like an expert to assist you directly, call an information specialist with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at (800) 955-4572. They can tell you the info you'll need to get from your doctor so you can figure out whether you're eligible for certain trials.
What to Ask Before Signing Up
The decision to join a clinical trial -- assuming you meet the enrollment requirements -- is all yours. But your doctor and members of the team running the trial should be able to give you whatever info you need to make an informed choice.
For starters, you should understand what the trial is studying. Researchers might be checking a new type of chemotherapy drug. They could also be studying a targeted therapy, which homes in on rapidly growing cancer cells. Other trials study immunotherapy -- treatments that harness the power of your own immune system.
Ask the research team about the type of therapy that's being tested. Find out what, exactly, the scientists are hoping to learn. Are they still figuring out if the new treatment works? Trying to sort out the best doses? Something else?
You'll also need to understand what kind of treatment you might get. In many types of trials, participants don't know which treatment group they're in, but you should at least be able to find out what the different groups are.
Also ask about the pros and cons. If a clinical trial is already in a later phase, scientists may already have good reason to believe that a new treatment works well. But in earlier phases of a trial, they may be much less sure.
You should also ask about the side effects, which may or may not be known by the time you join a particular trial.
It's also important to find out who will be in charge of your care during the trial. Will you be monitored by someone who is running the study? Or will your regular cancer doctor continue to oversee your treatment?
Also before you sign on, ask how long you'll be part of the study, what types of tests you'll need to have during and after the trial, and whether your travel costs will be covered.