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Home > Resources > PAF Publications > PAF Guides & Major Publications > A Guide to Clinical Trials > Talking to your physician

How To Talk To Your Doctor And Family About Clinical Trials

Once you have received a diagnosis you may wonder about potential clinical trial treatment. You and your physician can discuss current treatment choices and clinical trial options. When you are meeting with your physician you may benefit from bringing a family member or friend with you as you may be overwhelmed by the information you are provided. This can bring another perspective and that person may think of additional questions to ask during your visit.

Once you make the decision to participate in a clinical trial you will undoubtedly have many questions. You will need to speak with your treating physician if you have not already done so. Provide your treating physician with the information on the trial you would like to participate in and ask for their input. Prepare a notebook and keep a list of your questions. (Refer to the Q&A section at the back of this booklet). Take this to all physician appointments and ask those questions. Learn if your current physician can continue to treat you or whether you will need to change physicians for best results.

You will want to speak with your family and let them know why you made the decision you have made. Remember they are concerned and scared too. They will have many questions. Talk openly about your decision.

Some questions to keep in mind when considering clinical trials:

  • How will I know if the treatment is working, and how soon?
  • What are my options if the trial treatment does not work?
  • How often will I have to travel long distances for treatment? (if applicable)
  • How long does the trial last and what are my responsibilities for
  • What is my health insurance likely to cover and what is it likely to deny?
  • What happens to those charges if insurance denies them – whose responsibility are they?
  • Will there be out of pocket costs for me? If yes, how much? What if I cannot afford them?
As you go down the road of clinical trials, you will continue to have questions and seek answers. Be sure to keep a record of your questions so you can get the answers you need to make a well-informed decision. Some patients find that journaling or writing about their experience, is helpful.

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Next: Insurance Issues related to clinical trials