Cancer exploration study design and how to evaluate results
In cancer research solutions exploration, there are 2 main types of research studies:
- Experimental studies. This kind of study provides an intervention, such as a new treatment. The intervention is given to a group of people. The researchers then compare their results with those of another group that does not receive the intervention. This additional group is known as the control group. Researchers choose who receives and who does not receive the intervention, either randomly or through a selection process. Experimental studies help researchers acquire more about how cancer starts or spreads. These educations can also test new imaging techniques and discover quality-of-life issues.
- Observational studies. This type of study involves observing groups of people in a natural environment and observing a specific result. A result can include whether one group of people has more cancer diagnoses than another group. In these studies, researchers cannot control interventions, such as a person’s weight or whether they took vitamin supplements. These studies are often described as epidemiological. Epidemiology involves studying how different risks cause or spread disease in a community.
Types of experimental studies
Experimental studies are more reliable than observational studies. This is because volunteers are placed in the intervention or control group by chance. This decreases the likelihood that the assumptions or partialities of the researchers or volunteers will change the study results. Such assumptions or preferences are called biases.
This type of study also helps researchers better find and control other factors, such as age, gender, and weight. These factors can affect the results of the study.
Researchers may also reflect certain factors when selecting people to enroll in an experimental study. They may be based on the type of cancer, the stage of the disease, or whether cancer has spread.
One of the most communal types of experimental studies is the clinical trial. This is a research study testing a medical intervention in people. Clinical Trials Test:
The effectiveness or safety of a new drug or drug combination.
Evaluation of research studies
Here are some tips for knowing the quality of a research study:
Bargain out if the journal uses a peer-review process. The results of a study are more reliable if they are reviewed by peers. This means that the researchers who are not part of the study have reviewed and approved the design and methods.
Look at the length of the study and the number of people involved. A study is more useful and credible if the same results are produced in many people over a long period of time. Studies of rare types of cancer or cancers with little chance of improvement are an exception to this rule. This is because there are a small number of patients to study. Also, when considering the duration of the study, it may be desirable for some clinical trials to be shorter. For example, cancer prevention trials are often much longer than clinical treatment trials. This is because it generally takes more time to determine if a prevention strategy is working compared to a treatment.
Reflect on the phase of the study when learning about new treatments. Phase I and II clinical trials generally give you more information about the safety of a treatment and less about its effectiveness. These studies tend to have fewer patients compared to phase III clinical trials. Phase III clinical trials compare a new treatment to the standard of care. “Standard of care” means the best-known treatments. Physicians reflect phase III clinical trials to be the most reliable.
Find out if the study ropes or contradicts current research. The new results are exciting, but other researchers must validate the results before the medical field accepts them as fact. Review articles such as systematic reviews are of special interest. They review and draw conclusions from all published research on a specific topic.
Beware of conclusions that overstate or oversimplify the results. Each education is a small piece of the research puzzle. Medical practice rarely changes due to the results of a single study.
A new approach to radiation therapy or surgery.
A new treatment or way to prevent cancer.
Ways to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence
Doctors and researchers conduct clinical investigations in segments called phases. Each phase of a clinical trial offers different answers about the new treatment. For example, it can show the dose, safety, and effectiveness of the treatment. Efficacy is how well the treatment works. There are 4 phases of clinical trials.
In a clinical trial, volunteers are usually randomly selected to be in the treatment or control group. Researchers can avoid bias in a clinical trial by preventing volunteers and/or themselves from knowing how volunteers are grouped. This is a process known as “blinding.”
The types of experimental studies include:
- A randomized double-blind trial. Most scientists trust that this type of clinical trial will produce the best evidence in a study. Neither the volunteers nor the researchers distinguish who belongs to a treatment or control group pending the study ends.
- A single-blind randomized trial. In these types of trials, volunteers do not know whether they belong to a treatment or control group. But the researchers know.
- Open / non-blind test. Both volunteers and researchers know who belongs to which test group in this type of study. This occurs when blinding is not possible. For example, the study could compare a surgical treatment with a drug.
Cancer research perspectives from the past decade, 2010 to 2020
Over the past 10 years, the overall cancer death rate has continued to decline. Researchers in the US and around the world have made significant strides in learning the more complex details of how to prevent, diagnose, treat, and survive cancer. At the lead of emerging cancer research is the success of immunotherapy, the increasing role of precision medicine, the influence that reducing health disparities may have on cancer outcomes, and the development and use of liquid biopsies and machine learning, which is enabling scientists to make sense of “big data.” Here are some of the significant advances from the last 10 years that are helping to save lives now, and how ACS research has contributed to each one.