Clinical trials are studies of promising new approaches to care, which may include new medications or an innovative technique to deliver a treatment. In fact, all of today's standard cancer treatments were once clinical trials.
At Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, we are dedicated to developing new and better cancer care options through continued commitment to clinical trials. Patients seek out our center because of our extensive range of trials, expert specialists, active Phase I program and supportive team that’s at their side every step of the way.
Clinical Trials: Why Choose Vanderbilt-Ingram
Clinical trials offer an important option for patients to consider. Cancer clinical trials typically test the standard cancer therapy with a new treatment that is as good, if not better. We encourage you to talk to your doctor about whether a clinical trial is a good option for you.
Patients come to Vanderbilt-Ingram for our active, robust clinical trial program:
- High level of clinical trial expertise: We have nearly 500 active clinical trials at our center. Because of our commitment to research and innovation, top doctors from around the country choose to work at Vanderbilt-Ingram. Our patients benefit from the most skilled experts in the field, who specialize in their particular field of cancer care. This level of expertise means that you are getting the safest, most effective treatment available.
- Active Phase I program: Vanderbilt-Ingram is a leader in Phase I trials. Phase I trials test new treatments in humans for the first time. Phase I trials require the most advanced facilities, deep support system and experienced clinical trials staff.
- Leaders in immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is a treatment method that uses a patient’s own immune cells to fight the cancer. With our ongoing work in immunotherapy, we are changing the face of cancer treatment.
- Personalized medicine: We are pioneers in genomic research to match patients to the correct therapies. Using changes in the tumor’s DNA, we can find the right clinical trial that has the highest chance of working for you. Learn more about how we use precision medicine in cancer care.
- Investigator-initiated trials: We have many clinical trials that are initiated by our physicians. In these studies, our experts, leaders in the cancer field, are driving the research and making the key decisions along the way.
- Support staff: We have a responsive, expert support staff to help you navigate the clinical trial process. Our team will assist you with details about travel and lodging during the trial. We lift the burden of figuring out these details so you can focus on feeling better.
Clinical Trial Safety
Patients may worry that if they participate in a clinical trial, they may be testing an unknown or unsafe treatment. Understanding the clinical trial process can help reassure patients and their families. Here’s what happens before clinical trials reach Phase I:
- Preclinical testing: Before a new treatment is tested with patients, researchers carefully study it for years in the laboratory. This research identifies the new methods most likely to succeed and, as much as possible, shows how to use them safely and effectively.
- Approval process: Clinical trials undergo a rigorous approval process both by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and by two separate committees at Vanderbilt.
- One committee reviews the study to make sure it is scientifically sound.
- The other committee, the Institutional Review Board (IRB), focuses on the protection of study volunteers. These committees ensure that we conduct research ethically and protect the safety of our patients participating in clinical trials.
Clinical Trial Phases
Clinical trials to test new cancer treatments involves three phases. Each phase is designed for a different purpose. If a new treatment is successful in one phase, it will progress to the next phase for further testing.
- Phase I trials determine if a new treatment dosage is safe and how the new treatment should be given. This phase also shows how the new treatment affects the body and fights cancer.
- Phase II trials test if the new treatment has an effect on a certain cancer. This phase continues to look at how the new treatment affects the body and fights cancer.
- Phase III trials compare the new treatment, or the new use of a treatment, with current standard therapies.
Clinical Trial Participation at Vanderbilt-Ingram
As a patient being treated at Vanderbilt-Ingram, you may be eligible to take part in a clinical trial.
- Deciding whether to participate: If you qualify for a clinical trial, you will decide, with the advice of your physician, whether to participate in the study.
- Providing informed consent: We cannot know ahead of time how a particular treatment will work for you. Therefore, we will discuss both the risks and benefits of clinical trials before you make a decision. This process is called "informed consent."
- Giving your permission: You will never be placed on a clinical trial without your knowledge or permission. All qualified patients involved in clinical trials sign consent forms before the study begins.
- Leaving the study: You also may decide to leave a study at any time. It will have no effect on your continued care at Vanderbilt-Ingram.
If you qualify, we hope that you and your family will consider participating in this worthwhile endeavor. A trial may be the right option for you, and your participation will help us to advance treatments for others. Please talk to your doctor about clinical trials that may be available to you.
Support for Clinical Trial Participants
Perhaps you and your doctor have decided that a clinical trial is right for you, but you are overwhelmed at all the steps involved. At Vanderbilt-Ingram, you are not alone – we are here with you, helping you every step of the way.
The Vanderbilt-Ingram Service for Timely Access (V-ISTA) program helps prospective patients schedule new patient appointments. The program also works with the Clinical Trials Eligibility Team to help new patients connect with the appropriate clinical trials at Vanderbilt-Ingram.
- Expert staff: Our nurses and support staff have deep expertise in cancer care and research. The nurses work with schedulers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center Central Access Center to help quickly place you with the appropriate healthcare provider.
- Help with paperwork: Before your first appointment with us, we will request all of your medical records, including imaging CDs and pathology slides. Reviewing all of this data ensures that we have everything we need for your first appointment as well as determining your potential eligibility for one of our clinical trials.
Explore Cancer Clinical Trials at Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt-Ingram offers dozens of clinical trials for different cancer types, treatment approaches and stages of disease. A team of nurses and staff with expertise in cancer care and research is dedicated to connecting patients with appropriate clinical trials.
Search clinical trials at Vanderbilt-Ingram. You can filter by cancer type, doctor's name, drug name or treatment type.
For more information about cancer clinical trials at Vanderbilt-Ingram or to refer a patient to a specific clinical trial, including Phase I trials, call 1-800-811-8480.