Fact or Fiction? The Truth About Clinical Trials - The Pink Fund

Fact or Fiction? The Truth About Clinical Trials

By Jessica Jones

Clinical trials are a driving force behind advancements in medicine. They support innovations in treatment and therapies for a wide range of health conditions. In my work as a breast cancer research nurse, I am deeply involved in these trials. I get to witness their crucial role in advancing healthcare, but I also witness the barriers surrounding them. I often hear patients citing concerns about participating in clinical trials that are rooted in misconception.

I strive to educate my patients about these trials and encourage their involvement. If you’re considering a trial or caring for a loved one who may be, here are a few common myths that may be holding you back.

Myth #1: Clinical trials are unsafe and treat participants as guinea pigs.
Fact: Clinical trials are safe! Like any other medical treatment, trials must adhere to stringent scientific and ethical standards. Before a trial can begin, it undergoes rigorous review by multiple regulatory bodies to ensure participant safety. Potential risks are always identified during the informed consent process, allowing participants to make informed decisions about their involvement.

Myth #2: Researchers withhold crucial information about the trial.
Fact: Informed consent is part of a clinical trial when participants are provided with comprehensive information about the trial, including its purpose, procedures, potential risks and benefits, alternatives to participation, and their rights as participants. Through informed consent, researchers are required to disclose any relevant information in a way that is understandable to the participant. As I mentioned before, because these trials go through rigorous reviews, researchers are not allowed to withhold critical information from patients.

Myth #3: Participants might receive a placebo instead of the actual treatment.
Fact: While placebos are occasionally used in clinical trials, they are never given when an effective treatment already exists for the condition under investigation. A participant will always receive the normal standard of care for their condition and will not be left “untreated” for their conditions. Participants are informed about the possibility of receiving a placebo and the likelihood of its use in the trial.

Myth #4: Clinical trials are exclusively for those with terminal illnesses.
Fact: Clinical trials are offered for a wide range of health conditions, from rare diseases to common ailments. They are not just a “last resort” option for participants. They offer hope and potential treatment options for individuals across the entire spectrum of healthcare needs. In fact, Molly MacDonald, Pink Fund’s co-founder, participated in a clinical trial during her treatment for breast cancer treatment. Her trial participation allowed researchers to observe the side effects of two medications.

Myth #5: Participants are obligated to remain in the study once enrolled.
Fact: Participants have the right to withdraw from a clinical trial at any stage without facing any consequences. Their autonomy and well-being are prioritized throughout the research process just as it is during all medical care.

Myth #6: Clinical trials always involve invasive procedures.
Fact: Clinical trials vary in their procedures. Some trials are a series of surveys and observations, and others involve more complex treatment plans and interventions.


Ultimately, your treatment path is up to you and you alone. However, it’s crucial that patients are aware of all their options, free from myths and misconceptions. The more we work to demystify clinical research, the more we can promote advancements in medical care and treatment for not only cancer, but all diseases.



Jessica Jones headshot

Jessica Jones is a breast cancer research nurse passionate about increasing diversity in clinical trials.


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