Clinical trials follow rules that decide who will be able to join the study. These are called "eligibility criteria". The eligibility criteria are different for each clinical trial. They depend on the goals of the clinical trial and the question(s) the research is trying to answer.
If a person has the type of cancer that is being studied in the trial, they might be able or "eligible" to join. Eligibility criteria might also include the stage of cancer, the cancer's genetic or molecular make-up, a person's age, or the types of treatment they had in the past.
Eligibility criteria are important because they help ensure:
Safety: Some people have health problems besides cancer that could be made worse by the treatments in a study. If you are interested in joining a trial, you will receive medical tests to be sure that you are not put at increased risk.
Accurate and meaningful study results: You may not be able to join some clinical trials if you have already had another kind of treatment for your cancer. Otherwise, doctors could not be sure whether your results were due to the treatment being studied or the earlier treatment.
Adapted from National Cancer Institute
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