Are Cancer Trials Ethical?

This is a very personal topic to me because I myself watched my dad suffer from the awful disease that is cancer. No matter who are I’m sure that in some way shape or form you too were effected by this disease too. Its been around for hundreds of years now yet there is still no cure. Chemotherapy is used many times to attack the source but is not always successful. When the chemo doesn’t work there are few other options. Sometimes at this point patients are put in a clinical trial with the hopes that there will be a successful outcome. Although there seems to be a ongoing debate about whether or not these trials are ethical. After doing a lot of research I have concluded that these clinical trials are necessary, although some may disagree.

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Side 1: The problems arises with the control group, aka the patients that are receiving the placebo. This means that the experimental group is receiving the drug that could potentially cure their cancer while the control group is not. Many people will say that this is simply unethical. How can you give one group of people a drug that could cure them and just simply let the others ones suffer? This is a hard question to address. The researchers are not doing any of this with bad intentions. Their goal simply is to cure all these people that are suffering but it cant all be done at once and this is often times hard for people to hear.

Side 2: On the other hand, many people see these trials as necessary step in the process of finding a cure. A study was done in 2000 to determine the attitude of people towards these types of trials. The study was set up with a questionnaire before, during, and after they participated in a clinical trial. The results found that the majority of these people said that the testing of clinical methods is very much necessary. Without these kinds of studies that give us hard data to look at how are we ever supposed to cure cancer?

In my opinion, I agree with side 2. Although it may be hard to think about putting a loved one in these trials in the end I believe they are doing it for the greater good. All intentions are good ones and the trials are done to help us get closer to the day that we can say we have cured cancer. I believe these trials are a necessary step in that process and if you happen to agree with side 1 then you do not have to participate. It is a difficult topic to discuss and everyone has their own side but overall I believe everything being done in these trials are getting us a step closer to ultimately finding the cure.

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1 thought on “Are Cancer Trials Ethical?

  1. Matthew O'Brien

    The answer to this question was discussed in class. The ethical nature of cancer trials is derived from the equal likelihood that the experimental treatment hurt or help the patient involved. Every time a new and successful treatment is discovered through a trial, it becomes the new standard of treatment and by extension the new control group for a subsequent trial. I can definitely understand why it would be very upsetting to be deprived a treatment that would have helped you. There is no way to sugarcoat how tragic such an event would be. Unfortunately, there is no better way. I think another interesting topic related to this is the prices that pharmaceutical companies are charging patients for some of their life-saving drugs. To what extent should that market be regulated? This might make for an interesting post.

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