A placebo, commonly called a sugar pill, is designed to look like the experimental drug but contains no medication. If you are considering enrolling in a clinical trial, you may be concerned about the possibility of getting a placebo. However, when placebos are used in cancer clinical trials, they are never used alone—you will receive either the standard treatment plus the experimental drug or the standard treatment plus a placebo. You will never receive only a placebo. You will also be told before you enroll in a trial if there is a chance you will receive a placebo along with the standard treatment.
Click the links below to learn more about the use of placebos in cancer clinical trials.
- US Food and Drug Administration: Cancer clinical trials may use a placebo to compare the experimental treatment to standard treatment
- National Cancer Institute: Placebos are not commonly used in cancer clinical trials
- American Cancer Society: Giving participants a placebo alone in a cancer clinical trial is unethical (scroll to “Will I get a placebo?”)
Last Modified on October 2, 2023