Clinical Trials

Every day around the world, groundbreaking clinical trials are offering new hope in the fight against cancer. At California Cancer Center, we’re committed to doing whatever it takes to find a cure, that is why we routinely bring national and international clinical cancer trials to Valley patients. We are currently enrolling our patients in clinical trials for lung, breast, colon and brain cancer.

Clinical trials are a very important way our patients can access the most advanced thinking in cancer treatment.  We offer many opportunities for participation which in turn offers new hope to our patients. -Bonnie Harkins, R.N., O.C.N., research nurse, California Cancer Center

What is a clinical trial?
Clinical trials are research studies focused on finding new ways to improve health and cancer care. Each study tries to answer scientific questions and to find better ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat cancer. A clinical study is one of the final stages of the cancer research process. Studies are done with cancer patients to find out whether promising approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment are safe and effective.

The California Cancer Center is affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco, Fresno Medical Education Program and as a teaching cancer program, we are expected to enroll a minimum of 6% of new cancer patients into trials. All new cancer patients are screened for eligibility and may choose to participate in one of the recommended trials we offer. Patients cannot be enrolled in a clinical trial without their knowledge and consent.

Most clinical trials are classified into one of three phases, this allows researchers to ask and answer questions in a way that results in reliable information about the drug and protects the patients:

  • Phase I trials: These first studies in people evaluate how a new drug should be given (by mouth, injected into the blood, or injected into the muscle), how often and what dose is safe. A phase I trial usually enrolls only a small number of patients, sometimes as few as a dozen.
  • Phase II trials: A phase II trial continues to test the safety of the drug and begins to evaluate how well the new drug works. Phase II studies usually focus on a particular type of cancer.
  • Phase III trials: These studies test a new drug, a new combination of drugs, or a new surgical procedure in comparison to the current standard. A participant will usually be assigned to the standard group or the new group at random (called randomization). Phase III trials often enroll large numbers of people and may be conducted at many doctors' offices, clinics and cancer centers nationwide.

What are my rights as a patient?
If you decide to enroll in a clinical trial, you will be made fully aware of what takes place. This is called informed consent. Before you sign a consent form, an investigator will explain the purpose of the trial, expected benefits, anticipated side effects or risks and what will be expected of you. This gives you an opportunity to ask any questions and to address concerns or anxieties about entering a clinical trial. If you decide to participate, you will sign a consent form and be enrolled. Even if you sign a consent form, you can leave a clinical trial at any time without penalty.