Cancer Research and Clinical Trials

A cancer clinical trial is a research study conducted by health care professionals with the intent to improve the care and treatment of cancer patients. Cancer clinical trials can lead to improvements in cancer prevention, detection and treatment for all cancer patients. In fact, most of today's treatment recommendations are based on information obtained from earlier clinical trials. 

Clinical trials are an important aspect of the care we provide at UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health. Currently, we manage clinical trials that are testing new ways to detect and treat cancer, reduce the side effects of drugs and improve patients’ comfort and quality of life.

Your decision to participate in a clinical trial is personal and should not be made lightly. To make an informed decision about your treatment, you should consider the possible advantages and disadvantages of a clinical trial and how your participation might affect you and your family. We encourage you to discuss this and all other treatment decisions with your doctor. You can leave a clinical trial at any time without penalty. 

Types of Clinical Trials

  • Prevention trials study how healthy people may avoid cancer. People who are at high risk of getting cancer may benefit from participation in a prevention trial. 
  • Early detection and screening trials discover ways to find early stage cancer.
  • Diagnostic trials find new and better ways to determine whether someone has cancer and, if so, where cancer is located in the body, how much cancer is there and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.
  • Treatment trials may involve the option of being treated with investigational drugs or under novel regimes of existing drugs or both.
  • Quality-of-life and supportive-care trials seek to improve the comfort and quality of life of patients and their families, loved ones or caregivers.

Phases of Clinical Trials

Cancer clinical trials are conducted in phases, with each phase having a different purpose and answering a different question. A new treatment or technique must show sufficient promise at each phase before the clinical trial continues to the next phase.

Phase I Trials are conducted to determine treatment drug side effects, dosing and scheduling. All drugs in phase I trials have shown promise in tests performed in the laboratory and in animals. Researchers believe that the drugs have the potential to be active against cancer cells in people. Generally, patients who participate in phase I trials no longer are responding to standard therapy options.

Phase II Trials reveal how well a new treatment works against various types of cancer. More information is collected about side effects of the new treatment. Patients eligible for Phase II trials may have been treated for cancer, but their disease has progressed or stopped responding to standard treatment.

Phase III Trials compare the safety and effectiveness of the experimental drug or treatment with the standard treatment that patients normally would receive. A large number of patients are studied in phase III trials.

Phase IV Trials are conducted after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a treatment for use. Phase IV trials provide additional information about effectiveness and side effects.

UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health regularly participates in Phase II, III and IV trials.

Cancer Center patients may participate in studies sponsored by several organizations, including those conducted by the National Cancer Institute, other national study groups and certain pharmaceutical companies.

Besides research studies involving new chemotherapies, we also offer trials of new methods of giving chemotherapy that have been tested and previously approved. Trials also may include different methods of radiation therapy, new surgery options and ways to combat symptoms related either to treatment or cancer.

The Cancer Center offers prevention studies to patients and families at risk of developing cancer. Prevention studies are conducted to help prevent cancer from occurring in family members or from recurring in patients who have been cured of their cancer through initial treatment.

Your doctor may offer participation in these research studies. We encourage you to ask your doctor about clinical trials as these studies might improve your quality of life.

For additional questions regarding clinical trials at the Cancer Center, please call  321.841.1620.