When new treatments for cancer are developed, they are tested through clinical trials in order to know whether they should be added to the standard treatment options offered to patients. Thousands of clinical trials in the United States and abroad are listed on the http://clinicaltrials.gov/ website.
In Phase I trials, a small number of patients are treated with a new therapy to help establish what dose is best and what side effects it causes.
Phase II trials involve a larger number of patients who provide additional information about side effects and an idea of how many people get a good response to the treatment.
Phase III trials are the largest trials and are used to determine whether a treatment is better than what is currently offered for that condition. In order to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration, most new drugs must have a successful Phase III trial. The goal of the clinical trial process is to bring new treatments to the patients that need them in as safe a way as possible.
The major advances in the treatment of gynecologic cancer have all been based on the results of clinical trials. Participation in trials allows patients access to cutting-edge treatment while helping to establish the standard of care for the next generation of women with these diseases.