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Are there clinical trials available for prostate cancer treatment?

Many patients with prostate cancer take part in treatment studies called clinical trials. Patients who take part in these studies have the first chance to benefit from treatments that have shown promise in earlier research. They also make an important contribution to medical science. 

Doctors conduct clinical trials to learn about the effectiveness and side effects of new treatments. In some clinical trials, all patients receive the new treatment. In phase III clinical trials, physicians compare similar groups of people taking different treatments for the same type of cancer, it is done by giving the new treatment to one group of patients and the standard therapy to another group; or they may compare one standard treatment to another. 

Many clinical trials of treatments for prostate cancer are under way. For example, researchers are comparing treatment against careful observation of men with early stage prostate cancer. The results of this work will help doctors to know whether to treat early stage prostate cancer immediately or only later on, if symptoms occur. 

Doctors are studying new ways of using radiation therapy and hormone therapy. Some doctors also are exploring the use of cryosurgery, which uses extreme cold to destroy cancer cells, as an alternative to surgery and radiation therapy. In cryosurgery, an instrument called a cryoprobe is placed in direct contact with the tumor to freeze it, sparing nearby healthy tissue. 

Researchers also are testing the effectiveness of chemotherapy and biological therapy for patients whose cancer does not respond or stops responding to hormone therapy. In addition, scientists are looking for new ways of combining various types of treatment. 

One question patients may have is "Shall I take part in a clinical trial?" This is a question only the patient and their family members, and their physician can answer together. Men with prostate cancer who are interested in taking part in a clinical trial should discuss this option with their doctor. Prostate cancer clinical trials can be found at websites such as Center Watch and CyberMedTrials.com (http://cybermedtrials.com/)

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