The enormous improvements in treating childhood leukemia have been the direct result of clinical trials. Most clinical trials compare the best proven existing therapy with one or more therapies that have been proven effective in smaller studies, and that are hoped to offer improvements over the existing proven (standard) therapy. These studies are designed such that no one knows which treatment is superior, a concept termed "equipoise." It would be unethical to treat any child according to any regimen which was known to be inferior.
Clinical trials offer the most up-to-date treatment available. Some children who participate in a clinical trial may benefit from the newest research. Whether or not their own children benefit directly, most parents derive comfort from knowing that the knowledge gained will make an important contribution to medical science and may help other children with cancer.
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