Clinical Research FAQ

Clinical research is an important step toward finding a cure for cancer, but there are many misconceptions that keep patients from participating in these life-saving options. Below are some clinical research FAQ’s to review before deciding if you want to participate in one of our available studies.

What does the ACR accreditation seal mean?

When you see the ACR seal you can rest assured that your treatment will be done at a facility that has met the highest level of quality and radiation safety. The facility and its personnel have gone through a comprehensive review to earn accreditation status by the American College of Radiology (ACR), a national professional organization serving more than 36,000 diagnostic/interventional radiologists, radiation oncologists, nuclear medicine physicians and medical physicists.

What does ACR accreditation mean?

  • Our facility has voluntarily gone through a vigorous review process to ensure that we meet nationally accepted standards of care.
  • Our personnel are well qualified through education and certification to administer your radiation therapy treatments.
  • Our equipment is appropriate for the treatment you will receive, and our facility meets or exceeds quality assurance and safety guidelines.

Why should I have my treatments at an accredited facility?

A diagnosis of cancer is usually a life-changing experience for patients and their loved ones. As they seek treatment for their disease, cancer patients need to know that they are receiving safe and appropriate care. To achieve ACR accreditation, our facility’s personnel qualifications, equipment requirements quality assurance and quality control procedures have gone through a rigorous review process and have met specific qualifications. It’s important for patients to know that every aspect of the ACR accreditation process is overseen by board-certified, expert radiation oncologists and medical physicists.

What should I know about radiation therapy treatments?

  • Will my treatments be given by qualified physicians and staff?
  • Does the facility have the equipment I need to receive safe and up-to-date cancer treatment?
  • Is the facility accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR)?

ACR accreditation

Q. Is your facility ACR accredited?
A. Yes.CCCN’s facility, and its personnel, have gone through a comprehensive review to earn accreditation status.

ACR accreditation

Is it extremely difficult to find a compatible research study?

Finding a compatible cancer research study that meets all of your needs is not as complicated as you may think. Networks of community-based oncology physicians like CCCN that have national affiliations with The US Oncology Network, UCLA, Community Clinical Oncology Program funded by NIH and various pharmaceutical company sponsored trials at CCCN can help you find clinical research studies in Nevada.

Do participants risk getting a placebo or no treatment at all?

Placebos, or sugar pills, are never used in a research study if an existing standard therapy is available. Patients who enroll in a clinical research studies receive either the best known treatment or a new and potentially more effective cancer therapy. Patients who enroll in a clinical research studies receive either the best known treatment or a new and potentially more effective cancer therapy.

Do participants in clinical research studies pay for everything out of pocket?

It’s important to know that clinical research studies can be funded from a variety of sources. Often times, insurance companies may fund all or part of treatment during a trial. In addition, certain trial organizers may provide funding, or there may be other private or public programs available to assist you. At Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada, patients who participate in clinical research studies do so at no cost to them for the treatment and tests.

Are clinical research studies only available for patients who are out of other treatment options?

Clinical research studies are not used as a last resort after all other options have been exhausted. Cancer research exists for all types and stages of cancer and even cancer prevention. Clinical research studies can be beneficial for newly diagnosed patients or patients who have not responded or are unable to use current FDA approved treatments.

Since clinical research is testing unproven therapies, is the process risky for my health?

Many patients feel apprehensive about hearing the words “trial” or “experimental” but contrary to popular belief, these therapies have actually undergone extensive testing before being used by humans. In addition, there are different trial phases that are meant to test different aspects of a possible new treatment. For example, some trials test for safety, others for effectiveness and some are meant to research the long term effects of a new therapy. However, the staff at Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada considers patient safety the utmost priority and carefully monitors the patient throughout the duration of the study. It’s a good idea to talk with an oncologist about options of the types trials to consider.

What is cancer?

Cancer is a group of diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control. These cancer cells, which can originate almost anywhere in the body, can invade nearby tissues and can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.

How many people have cancer?

More than one million people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Almost half of American men and one third of American women will have some type of cancer at some point during their lifetime. While anyone can get cancer at any age, about 77 percent of all cancers are diagnosed in people age of 55 and older, and the rate of occurrence varies by racial and ethnic groups.

What are the different types of cancer?

The main types of cancers are: carcinoma, sarcoma, lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma.

Carcinomas are the most common types of cancer. They arise from the cells that cover external and internal body surfaces such as the skin, lung, breast, and colon.
Sarcomas are cancers arising from cells found in the supporting tissues of the body such as bone, cartilage, fat, connective tissue and muscle.
Lymphomas are cancers that arise in the lymph nodes and tissues of the body’s immune system.
Leukemia is cancer that starts in immature blood cells that grow in the bone marrow and causes abnormal blood cells to accumulate in large numbers in the bloodstream. Myeloma is a cancer that develops in the plasma cells of bone marrow.

What causes cancer?

Cancer cells develop because of damage to DNA, a substance in every cell that directs all activity of the cell. Usually when DNA becomes damaged, the body is able to repair it; however, sometimes it is not repaired and the cell becomes abnormal. Scientists are working to better understand what causes DNA to become damaged. Some people inherit damaged DNA, which accounts for inherited cancers. More often, though, a person’s DNA becomes damaged by environmental factors or individual behaviors such as smoking.

What are the signs and symptoms of cancer?

The signs and symptoms vary depending on the specific kind of cancer, but there are some general signs and symptoms that may indicate a need for testing. These include fatigue, a sore that does not heal, nagging cough, pain, unexplained weight loss, fever and changes on the skin. Although there could be other reasons for these sign and symptoms, anyone experiencing these should consult their physician.

Are all tumors cancerous?

No. Some tumors are benign (noncancerous) and do not spread to other parts of the body. Cancerous tumors are called malignant.

What is a risk factor?

A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of getting a disease. Some risk factors can be negated, such as factors in the environment or lifestyle choices, and others, such as age, family history and race, cannot.

What are risk factors for cancer?

Risk factors vary by kind of cancer. Someone who has used tobacco products has a greater risk of developing lung and/or mouth cancer.

What are treatment options for cancer?

Standard types of treatment for cancer are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and biological therapy. These treatments may be used alone, but often combined to maximize the patients’ long-term survival. Surgery and radiation therapy are considered local treatments, as they target the cancer cells in the tumor and near it. Chemotherapy, hormone therapy and biological therapy are systemic treatments, meaning they travel through the bloodstream reaching cancer cells all over the body. Patients should work closely with their Oncologist to determine the best individualized treatment options.

What is cancer staging?

Staging is the process of determining how far the cancer has spread. It is important to know the stage of the cancer before determining which treatment options are best. Most often, physicians use the TNM system for staging. This system gives three key pieces of information:
T describes the size of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread to nearby tissue and organs.
N describes how far the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
M shows whether the cancer has spread (metastasized) to other organs of the body.

What are clinical trials?

Clinical trials are studies of new or experimental treatments in patients. This type of study is offered to eligible patients when there is reason to believe that the treatment being studied may offer benefits to the patient, such as improved outcomes or side effect management. There are three phases of clinical trials a treatment must complete before it is eligible for approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Phase I is to study the best way to give a new treatment and study its safety. It is often the first time the specific agent has been tested in a human, outside a laboratory. Phase II is designed to see if the treatment works. Phase III involves large numbers of patients and divides patients into two groups—a control group and the group receiving the new treatment.

What is remission?

Remission is a decrease in or disappearance of signs and symptoms of cancer. In partial remission, some, but not all, signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared. In complete remission, all signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared, although cancer still may be in the body.

Is there a cure for cancer?

Today, there is no cure. Tremendous scientific advances have significantly extended patient survival rates, and many patients today will never have recurrence of their disease. However, even after successful treatment, there may remain cancerous or precancerous cells in the body. Cancer patients must maintain a high level of vigilance for the rest of their lives, as the risk still remains.

What is the survival rate for cancer?

Survival rates vary by kind of cancer, but for all cancers diagnosed between 1996 and 2002, the 5-year relative survival rate is 66 percent, up from 51 percent between 1975 and 1977. This increase is largely attributed to earlier detection and new or improved treatments.

Do I need a physician referral to see an oncologist?

Although not a requirement of Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada, most patients come to the center for the first time through physician referrals. Cancer is usually first suspected or detected by primary care physicians, gynecologists, internists, pathologists, surgeons, or others.

Another consideration is your insurance coverage. Some insurance companies require that you have a referral from your primary care (or other) physician before seeing a specialist. If this is a requirement of your insurance company, please make sure that your primary care or other physician has provided a referral before scheduling your first appointment.

Will I receive treatment on the first day?

You will likely not start receiving chemotherapy or radiation treatment on your first day of cancer treatment, rather you will have consults with your physician and details on treatments to come.