Understanding your treatment choices

The following information will guide you in understanding your treatment options.

The usual, or standard treatment, is the best treatment that is currently available for the particular type and stage of cancer that you currently have. This treatment might include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapies or hormone therapies. In some cases the best available treatment may be supportive care. The standard treatment is usually established from evidence from a number of randomised controlled trials. It is important to understand the standard treatment for your cancer before you consider joining a clinical trial. The page Affected by cancer provides links to information on evidence based best practice care.

The standard treatment is the best treatment for you that is currently available. But research is always trying to improve on current best practice. A clinical trial might be an option for you if one of the following applies:

  • You have already tried the standard treatment and it has not worked.  
  • You would like to take the chance that you might receive a new and potentially better treatment than the standard treatment.
  • There are no further options for active treatment available to you and a clinical trial might offer the hope of trying an experimental treatment which may (or may not) have an effect on your cancer. 
  • You want to help people with cancer in the future. 

Clinical trials do not always result in a better treatment. The treatment may not work or it may have many side effects. This information is still useful as it is important to know whether the treatments, new or old, work for a particular cancer.

Firstly you need to understand the standard treatment for the cancer. There may be many additional treatment options for a person with cancer. A clinical trial is just one of these options. You should fully understand a trial's risks and benefits to you when you look at the options and consider a clinical trial.