Clinical trials have to go three phrases before being approved for the public. Participants of clinical trials are volunteers. The first phase is establishing the safety factor of the drug, product or device in a small group of volunteers. The second is establishing the effectiveness of the product in a small group of volunteers. The third is establishing the effectiveness of the drug or device in comparison to the one currently in use on a large group of volunteers. A clinical trial is advantageous for volunteers in that they get access to treatments that are not available to anyone else, they get an opportunity to play a vital role in the discovery of new drugs and treatments, they have the opportunity to play an active role in their treatment, and they have access to free treatment.
Thanks to clinical trials, research in skin cancer has progressed a great deal. For basal and squamous skin cancers, radiation therapy and surgery work well. However, some of them are still difficult to treat based on where the cancer is located. Newer treatment methods are being researched to deal with these. Laser surgery, photodynamic therapy, and topical drugs are some of the ways to combat these hard to reach cancers by reducing scarring and side effects.
Targeted drugs are being researched currently for squamous cell cancers. Squamous cell cancers grow because they have too much of EFGR, a protein, on their surfaces. The newer target drugs focus on this protein. One of the drugs is cetuximab (Erbitux) is, as of now, being used in clinical trials for its effectiveness.
Basal cell cancers hardly ever reach an advanced stage. However, if they do reach the advanced stage, they become almost impossible to treat. In these instances, there are targeted drugs called hedgehog pathway inhibitors, which help and which are being researched. Basal skin cancers have genes with mutations that belong to the cell signaling pathway. This cell signaling pathway is called a hedgehog. Some of the hedgehog pathway inhibitors include vismodegib (Erivedge) and sonidegib (Odomzo). These drugs are in the form of capsules. Post-surgery or other usual treatments, they seem to shrink the tumors.