Clinical trials are scientific studies that test the impact of medical treatment on a selected group of patients with a common medical condition.
Patients participating in clinical trials are provided with a medical intervention to treat their condition—which may refer to a drug or vaccine, surgery, medical device therapy, dietary regimen, or any other kind of medical treatment—and then monitored over the course of the study to determine the effectiveness and safety of that treatment.
All medical treatments must go through a rigorous testing process before being made widely available to patients. This process provides an organized pathway for scientists, physicians, and administrators to test new drugs, improve existing treatments, and make general advances in medical understanding.
Clinical trials are an important step in this process in three primary ways: 1) ensuring that standard treatment practices are safe and effective; 2) helping to refine and improve existing treatments; and 3) testing new treatments to determine their effects.
“Oncology” refers to the area of medicine used to treat cancer; clinical oncology trials are therefore clinical trials used to test and improve new or existing cancer-related treatments.