Q. What should I consider before participating in a clinical trial?

A. Each clinical trial is unique and has its own benefits and risks.

  • Some possible benefits of participation include:
  • You may have more treatment options
  • If the new drug or treatment works, you may be among the first to benefit
  • You may be able to help future cancer patients
  • The trial sponsor may pay for some of your medical care or tests

Some possible risks include:

  • The side effects may be worse than standard treatment
  • Side effects may occur that the doctor does not expect
  • New treatments do not always turn out to be better than or be as good as standard treatments
  • The new treatment may not work for you even if it works for other patients

Q. How will I know if I am eligible to participate in a clinical trial?

A. Each clinical trial has eligibility criteria, which are requirements that patients must meet before they can participate, for example:

  • Age and gender
  • Type of cancer
  • Stage (extent) of the cancer
  • Previous treatments that you must, or must not, have had
  • Length of time since you last received treatment
  • Results of certain laboratory tests
  • Medicines that you are taking
  • Other medical conditions
  • Previous history of any other cancer
  • Other conditions that are specific to each clinical trial

If you have found a clinical trial you might qualify for, talk to your doctor, or contact the clinical trials’ principal investigator, or research nurse.

Q. After the clinical trial ends, what happens to the information and results?

A. Researchers give patients a number or code to protect their identities. When the clinical trial results are published, patients’ names are not used. The research team may access clinical trial information to help the study sponsor submit data to the MHRA for approval.

If you want to read what has been published about a clinical trial that you participated in, contact your doctor.

Q. Where can I find additional information?

A. Below is a list of websites that will provide you with more information:

  • www.controlled-trials.com
    Lists all the current controlled trials taking place in the UK
  • www.ctu.mrc.ac.uk (Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit)
    Contains information about clinical trials
  • www.cancerhelp.org.uk (Cancer Research UK)
    Contains patient information on all types of cancer and has a cancer research clinical trials database to allow people to identify suitable trials.
  • www.ncrn.org.uk/portfolio/dbase.asp (National Cancer Research Network)
    Has information of all National Cancer Research Network research trials.
  • www.abpi.org.uk (Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry)
    Has information about research trials, phases of trials and legal and ethical issues.
  • www.cminteract.com/clintrial/ (run by the ABPI – see above)
    A site run by the ABPI for companies to publish information about clinical trials for licensed medicines.
  • www.intelihealth.com (drug and medicines information)
    Easy to use and free from medical jargon. Has patient information leaflets that can be printed off.