Clinical Trials About Head and Neck Cancer

Executive Summary

Clinical trials are considered to be a better method for treating head and neck cancer. These clinical trials include the research of new drugs, different combinations of treatments, new approaches to surgery, and new therapies. New treatments with better efficacy and safety are the outcome of a clinical trial​. The results of the clinical trials have been effective in reducing the symptoms and side effects during the treatment.

Volunteers or patients willing to participate in the clinical trials should communicate with their doctor and healthcare team and research expertise. This will help them to make well-decided informed choices regarding their participation in the clinical trial while signing informed consent. The volunteers willingly participate as they know these trials help to advance the treatment of head and neck cancer. Eligibility criteria for clinical trials of head and neck cancer ensure that the participants are safe based on well-structured research. People who take part in clinical trials may withdraw their participation at any moment in time due to any personal or medical conditions. It may be because the treatment is not working or giving the desired results. It can also be due to severe side effects or other risks.

Clinical Trials of Head and Neck Cancer

Scientists and health care specialists are always looking for better strategies to treat and cure people with head and neck cancer. These specialists create research studies involving volunteers, known as clinical trials, to conduct research and make scientific advances. Clinical trials evaluate and verify different new approaches, medications, or devices to treat head and neck cancer or any disease condition. It is through such clinical trials that various medicines and treatment methods that are currently used have been approved.

Clinical trials can be employed for all types and stages of head and neck cancer conditions. Most clinical trials focus on experimenting with new treatment options ​1​. They learn if a new treatment strategy is safe, effective, and better than the existing ones. The tests also evaluate new combinations of treatments, drugs, and other latest approaches in radiation, surgery, or other treatments. Some specific studies also focus on creating unique treatment plans and medications to manage and relieve symptoms and the possible side effects (short-term and long-term) of treatment. Every clinical trial requires the participation of volunteers. These people are the first to avail themselves of the new treatments and medications before making them available to the public.

But since all these are new, there can be many risk factors associated with these trials. Sometimes people may experience a few to a range of side effects, and there are also chances that the new study may not become successful. People interested in joining clinical trials should talk with their doctor or healthcare team and understand all possible pros and cons of the study. This helps people to make informed well-decided choices.


People come forward to participate in clinical trials for various reasons. Some patients consider clinical trials the best treatment option because the existing standard ones are not efficient in managing the disease condition. Hence people are often willing to try out clinical trials hoping that it will give them a better result. They join clinical trials with such hopes, even when they are uncertain about the impact of trial ​2​.  

Other patients and volunteers join clinical trials to help the trial progress and arrive at a beneficial result. They consider it a way to contribute to head and neck cancer treatment and cure. They will be aware that they may not benefit from the trial, but they participate with the hope that it will help future patients with head and neck cancer. 

The cost and insurance coverage of the clinical trials can vary with the study and its location. In certain cases, the cost of participation in clinical trial can be reimbursed while in some it might not be possible. So, people wanting to participate in clinical trials must talk with the team that carries out the research and their insurance company to learn more about costs and reimbursement.

There are certain treatments which involves the administration of a placebo. Placebo refers to a sugar pill usually combined with standard cancer treatment procedures. And so, it is crucial to inform the patients before conducting any study involving a placebo.  

Informed Consent and Patient’s Safety

Volunteers or patients wanting to join clinical trials must talk with their doctor/ healthcare team and research specialists to make well-decided, informed choices regarding participating in the trial. This is known as informed consent.  Doctors should describe how this trial differs from the standard treatment strategy. They must also inform the patient about the benefits and risk factors associated with this study. They must also explain the eligibility criteria to participate in clinical trials, that is the expectation from each participating person.

The participant and the research team will together review these criteria. People who take part in clinical trials may withdraw their participation at any point in time due to any personal or medical conditions. It may be because the treatment is not working or giving the desired results or due to other reasons. Experts and scientists would closely monitor clinical trials to look for their good and bad impacts. Also, before participating in clinical trials, people should communicate with the concerned specialists and doctors to know who will manage their treatments and care during the trial and post the trial.


  1. 1.
    Farlow JL, Birkeland AC, Swiecicki PL, Brenner JC, Spector ME. Window of opportunity trials in head and neck cancer. JCMT. Published online March 18, 2019. doi:10.20517/2394-4722.2018.100
  2. 2.
    Alsahafi E, Begg K, Amelio I, et al. Clinical update on head and neck cancer: molecular biology and ongoing challenges. Cell Death Dis. Published online July 15, 2019. doi:10.1038/s41419-019-1769-9