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Pillar 3: Cancer Clinical Trials

Ensure access to participation in cancer clinical trials.

Ensure that health benefit plans continue to provide coverage under the plans’ existing terms when individuals elect to participate in cancer clinical trials.

NOTE: The purpose of this requirement is to eliminate differential insurance coverage as a factor in a covered individual’s decision to participate or not in a cancer clinical trial. 

An approved cancer clinical trial:

  • Tests prevention, detection, or treatment of cancer.

  • Is either federally funded; conducted under an Investigational New Drug (IND) application reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); or is a trial that is exempt from the requirement of an IND application.

  • Operates under an official Institutional Review Board (IRB).  An IRB is a group of scientists, doctors, and other professionals that may include clergy, bioethicists, nurses, data managers and patient advocates, who review and approve the detailed plan for every cancer clinical trial. They check to see that the trial is well-designed, legal, ethical, does not involve unneeded risks, and includes a safety plan for patients

NOTE: Costs of investigational drugs or agents associated with the trial, or other direct costs related to the research being pursued in the trial (such as extra blood tests or scans that are done purely for the sake of the clinical trial) are typically paid for by the clinical trial sponsor, and are not the responsibility of the health benefit plan(s).

The choice of whether or not to participate is always up the patient and his or her physician, however, educating employees and raising awareness about the cancer clinical trials is an important first step.


Frequently Asked Questions

Pillar 3: Cancer Clinical Trials

Why are cancer clinical trials important?

The ever-increasing number of scientific discoveries provide more insights into the causes of cancer, but many successes are limited to the lab. Clinical trials are a critical part of the research process since trial results can lead to better treatments. In other words, trials help move basic scientific research from the lab into treatments for people with cancer.

What is a cancer clinical trial?

A cancer clinical trial is a research study, conducted with people who volunteer to participate, with the goal of finding better ways to treat cancer.

Is a cancer clinical trial considered a treatment of last resort?

No. Unlike clinical trials for other diseases and conditions, cancer clinical trials rarely involve a placebo. When an effective treatment is already available ("standard of care") participants always receive either that, the new agent or the new agent combined with standard of care therapy.


Taking Part in Cancer Treatment Research Studies

If you have cancer, you may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Clinical trials are a treatment option for many people with cancer. This book explains cancer treatment clinical trials and gives you some things to think about when deciding whether to take part. This booklet is for people with cancer, their family, and friends.