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40

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

®

:

Rectal Cancer, Version 1.2017

3

Overview of cancer treatments

Clinical trials

†

†

Phase III trials

compare a new drug to a

standard treatment head-to-head. These trials

often involve hundreds or thousands of people.

†

†

Phase IV trials

test drugs approved by the U.S.

FDA (

F

ood and Drug

A

dministration) to learn

more about side effects with long-term use.

Joining a clinical trial has benefits. First, you’ll have

access to the most current cancer care. However,

please note that it is unknown how well new

treatments will work if at all. Second, you will receive

the best management of care. Third, the results of

your treatment—both good and bad—will be carefully

tracked. Fourth, you may help other people who will

have cancer in the future.

Clinical trials have risks, too. Like any test or

treatment, there may be side effects. Also, new

tests or treatments may or may not improve your

health. In fact, your health may worsen during a trial.

Other downsides may include more hospital trips,

paperwork, and extra costs for you.

To join a clinical trial, you must meet the conditions

of the study. Patients in a clinical trial are often alike

in terms of their cancer and general health. Thus, if

patients improve, it’s because of the treatment and

not because of differences between them.

Complementary and alternative medicine

CAM (

c

omplementary and

a

lternative

m

edicine) is a group of treatments that aren’t

often given by doctors. There is much interest

today in CAM for cancer. Many CAMs are

being studied to see if they are truly helpful.

Complementary medicines are treatments

given along with usual medical treatments.

While CAMs aren’t known to kill cancer cells,

they may improve your comfort and well-

being. Two examples are acupuncture for pain

management and yoga for relaxation.

Alternative medicine is used in place of usual

medicine. Some alternative medicines are

sold as cures even though they haven’t been

proven to work in clinical trials. If there was

good proof that CAMs or other treatments

cured cancer, they would be included in this

book.

It is important to tell your treatment team if you

are using any CAMs. They can tell you which

CAMs may be helpful and which CAMs may

limit how well medical treatments work.