Before medications are available for general public use, they must undergo a series of test and clinical trials in order to determine efficacy. The process from a simple thought and idea to reaching your medicine cabinet is a journey that takes many years. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides the approval for mass distribution and is the final step prior to production of all medications.
Clinical trials are divided into four phases. Each phase has an increased number of patient participants. During phase one; the group will consist of twenty to eighty patients, whereas in phase three, the group is exponentially larger. Phases four of clinical trials are primarily related to post marketing the product and obtaining more information on risk versus benefits.
The National Cancer Institute is an excellent source for clinically detailed information on all medications related to cancer and their progression through the clinical trials. An example of this is Provenge a vaccine that is used to elicit an immune response from your prostate specific antigen or (PSA), a protein that indicates if cancer is present within the prostate.
According to James L. Gulley, M.D., Ph.D., of the Center for Cancer Research "Developing an alternative method of administering vaccine therapy that is well tolerated by most patients and produces similar immune responses to standard methods may help further the development of vaccine therapies for prostate cancer."
There are many medications, vaccines, treatments and therapies in the pipeline for approval and the greatest hope is that one day, perhaps soon, their will be a course that can be taken for the destruction of cancerous cells.
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