MD Anderson Cancer Center

Cancer Types


Research Studies/Clinical Trials                                                                                                      321.841.1620

A cancer clinical trial is a research study that is conducted by health care professionals with the intent to improve the care and treatment of cancer patients. Cancer clinical trials lead to improvements in cancer prevention, detection, and treatment for all cancer patients. In fact, most of today's treatment recommendations are based on information obtained from earlier clinical trials.

Clinical trials are an important aspect of the care provided at our center. Currently, we have clinical trials that test new ways to detect, treat, reduce side effects and improve the comfort and quality of life of people with cancer.

The decision to participate in a clinical trial is a personal decision and should never be made lightly. To make an informed decision about your treatment, it is important to consider the possible advantages and disadvantages of a clinical trial and how your participation might affect you and your family. We encourage you to discuss this and all treatment decisions with your doctor. You can leave a clinical trial at any time, and will not be penalized for doing so.

Dr. Gregory Pennock discusses Clinical Trials & Research Studies

Types of Trials

  • Prevention trials study how healthy people may prevent cancer. People who are at high risk of getting cancer may benefit from participation in a prevention trial.
  • Early-detection/screening trials discover ways to find early-stage cancer.
  • Diagnostic trials find new and better ways to determine if someone has cancer – and, if so, where cancer is located in the body; how much cancer is there; and whether or not it has spread to other parts of the body.
  • Treatment trials may involve the option of being treated under investigational drugs, or under novel regimes of existing drugs, or both.
  • Quality of life/supportive care trials seek to improve the comfort and quality of life of patients and their families, loved ones or caregivers.

Phases of Trials

Cancer clinical trials are conducted in phases with each phase having a different purpose and answering a different question. A new treatment or technique must show sufficient promise at each phase before continuing to the next phase.

Phase I Trials are conducted to determine treatment side effects, dosing and scheduling. All drugs in phase I trials have shown promise in tests performed in the laboratory and in animals. Researchers believe that the drug has potential to be active against cancer cells in people. Generally, patients who participate in phase I trials are no longer responding to standard therapy options.

MD Anderson - Orlando does not routinely participate in Phase I trials. These are generally conducted at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, National Cancer Institute or in larger teaching hospitals affiliated with medical schools.

Phase II Trials -reveal how well a new treatment works against various types of cancer. More information is collected about side effects of the new treatment. Patients eligible for Phase II trials may have had previous cancer treatment, but their disease has progressed or stopped responding to standard treatment.

Phase III Trials compare the safety and effectiveness of the experimental drug or treatment with a standard treatment (therapy the patients would normally receive). A large number of patients are studied in phase III trials.

Phase IV Trials are conducted after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a treatment for use. Phase IV trials provide additional information about effectiveness and side effects.

MD Anderson - Orlando regularly participates in Phase II, III and IV trials.

At MD Anderson - Orlando, patients may participate in studies sponsored by several organizations, including those conducted by MD Anderson in Houston, National Cancer Institute, other national study groups and certain pharmaceutical companies.

We generally treat patients who are eligible for those studies locally at MD Anderson - Orlando, but occasionally we refer a patient to our Houston colleagues for more specialized care.

Besides research studies involving new chemotherapies, we also offer trials of new methods of giving chemotherapy that have been tested and approved previously. Trials may also include different methods of radiation therapy, new surgery options and ways to combat symptoms related to either treatment or to cancer.

MD Anderson - Orlando offers prevention studies to patients and families at risk of developing cancer. Prevention studies are conducted to help prevent cancer from occurring in family members or from recurring in patients who have been cured of their cancer through initial treatment.

Your doctor may offer participation in these research studies. We encourage you to ask him or her about trials for which you may qualify. These studies may possibly improve your quality of life.

For additional questions regarding clinical trials at MD Anderson - Orlando please call 321.841.1620