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Clinical Trials: An Option That’s Improving Cancer Care

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​You may have heard about clinical cancer trials or clinical research studies from your health care provider, or in the news. Perhaps you still wonder, what exactly are they?

According to the American Cancer Society, “Clinical trials are studies in which people volunteer to test new drugs or procedures.” These studies have been essential to the development of new treatments for serious diseases such as cancer.

Nearly 70 percent of children with cancer are enrolled in clinical cancer trials, but as few as five percent of adults currently participate. As a result, there is now an effort to raise awareness of their importance. What you may not learn about from the news media are the thousands of people who are helped each year because they decided to take part in a clinical trial. You also aren't likely to hear about the millions who will benefit from the results.

Several levels of safeguards are in place to help protect the people who take part in clinical trials. Centers conducting clinical trials have committees that review all potential and ongoing clinical trials to protect the safety of those in the study. In cancer treatment, the current best standard care may be compared to the best standard care plus an investigational medication or intervention. This is to determine if the individual’s cancer care outcome or quality of life is improved.

Individuals participating in a clinical trial are always informed about potential risks. For example, investigational drug may turn out to be less effective than the standard approved drug, or there may be side effects that are unknown.

What are potential benefits of joining a clinical trial?  

  • May provide access to potentially beneficial medications.
  • You may feel you are taking a more active role in your health care.
  • It’s an opportunity to benefit yourself now and others who get cancer in the future.

Clinical Trials at Marshfield Clinic


​The Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP) is part of the overall research program at Marshfield Clinic and is a network for linking community physicians with National Cancer Institute clinical research programs allowing state-of-the-art cancer care to be available in local communities.

Marshfield Clinic's CCOP program is one of only about 50 centers in the United States and one of two in the State of Wisconsin and has received sustained funding by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) since 1983. CCOP protocols are available for symptom control, treatment and prevention of cancer. The program operates through a broad network of cancer groups and projects including:

  • Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG)
  • National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP)
  • Children's Oncology Group (COG)
  • University of Rochester Cancer Center (URC)
  • MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC)
  • CCOP research base
  • Cancer Trials Support Unit (CTSU)
  • North Central Cancer Trial Group (NCCTG)


For more information on cancer clinical trials please call 715-389-4457 or 1-800-782-8581​​ (ext. 94457)​