Caribou: Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Clinical Trials

July 31, 2020



July 31, 2020

Participating in a clinical trial offers you an opportunity to take a more active role in your own healthcare, gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available, and help institutions, hospitals and people by contributing to medical research. That being said, going through with a cancer clinical trial can be an overwhelming and complex process. It is vital to be as informed as possible about the study, including its purpose, duration, eligibility criteria, costs, key contacts, and potential risks and benefits.

If you are thinking about taking part in a clinical trial, you may want to ask your doctor or nurse a list of questions to find the best options for you. Going into the conversation with a list of questions will make this process feel less intimidating and hopefully help you make an informed decision about participating in a clinical trial.

Key Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Clinical Trials

First, ask about the design of the clinical trial:

  • What is the purpose of this clinical trial?

  • What phase is this clinical trial and what does that mean?

  • Why do researchers believe this new treatment might be effective?

  • Has this treatment been tested before?

  • Have there been other trials similar to this one? If yes, what were the results?

  • What kinds of patients will be in the clinical trial?

  • How many patients are needed for the clinical trial?

  • How long will the trial take?  

  • Will I find out about the results of the clinical trial?

  • How does this clinical trial differ from the regular treatment or standard care?

Jump into the eligibility requirements to ensure you can even participate in the trial:

  • Why is this clinical trial a good fit for me?

  • Are my treatment options if I don’t join this trial?

  • Are there other clinical trials that might help me?

  • What clinical trials are open to me?

  • What are the eligibility criteria to enrol in this study?

  • Am I eligible for this clinical trial? If not, can you recommend other options?

It’s important to discuss the potential benefits and risks of the study:

  • How could this clinical trial help me if I join?

  • What are the possible risks?

  • How will I know if the treatment is working?

Do the logistics work for you to participate? Find out by asking:

  • Where is the clinical trial taking place?

  • Is the clinical trial being offered at other sites?

  • How often will I have to go to the study site? 

  • How long will the clinical trial last?

  • What are my responsibilities during the clinical trial? Are these different from the regular treatments?

Take the time to learn about the medical team and staff that are part of the study:

  • Will the clinical trial's research team work with my doctor while I am in the clinical trial?

  • Who will be coordinating my general health care?

  • Who do I contact if I have side effects or other problems during the clinical trial?

  • Who will provide my medical care after the clinical trial ends?

It’s very important to understand any associated costs so that  you know what you are responsible for financially:

  • What costs are associated with this clinical trial?

  • Which of these costs are covered by the clinical trial? Are any covered by my insurance? (For example, insurance companies may not cover data collection, such as blood tests, that aren't part of regular care).

  • What costs will I be responsible for?

  • How do these costs compare to the costs of the standard treatment options?

  • Who can help me manage the costs related to my cancer care?

  • What is the name of the study site so I can ensure it is within my insurance network?

As you can see, the list of questions to ask your doctor is limitless. From above, choose the questions that fit you or your loved one’s situation the best and add any questions you may think of on your own. 

Need more information? Connect with a trusted Healthcare Advisors as they walk hand in hand with you during your cancer diagnosis treatment.