Doctors all over the country are conducting many types of clinical trials (research studies in which people volunteer to take part). Clinical trials are designed to find out whether new treatments are safe and effective.
Doctors are trying to find better ways to care for people with skin cancer. They are studying many types of treatment, such as surgery, chemotherapy, biological therapy, and combinations of treatment. For example, doctors are studying the use of a cancer treatment vaccine after surgery for people with advanced melanoma. For more information about cancer vaccines, you may want to read the NCI fact sheet Cancer Vaccines.
Even if the people in a trial do not benefit directly, they may still make an important contribution by helping doctors learn more about skin cancer and how to control it. Although clinical trials may pose some risks, doctors do all they can to protect their patients.
If you're interested in being part of a clinical trial, talk with your doctor. You may want to read the NCI booklet Taking Part in Cancer Treatment Research Studies. It describes how treatment studies are carried out and explains their possible benefits and risks.
NCI's Web site includes a section on clinical trials at http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials. It has general information about clinical trials as well as detailed information about specific ongoing studies of skin cancer. Information specialists at 1–800–4–CANCER (1–800–422–6237) and at LiveHelp can answer questions and provide information about clinical trials.