Living with cancer

Clinical trials

Doctors are continually trying to find more effective ways of diagnosing and treating cancer. One of the ways they can find out how well a new treatment works is to carry out a clinical trial. A clinical trial is a research study that is carried out in a carefully planned way. Clinical trials aim to find out if the new treatment or procedure is safe, has side effects and works better than current treatments. It can sometimes take several years for clinical trials to prove the value of a new treatment.

Many successful treatments used today were tested originally in clinical trials and some of the people with cancer who took part in those trials were the first to benefit. If you are involved in a clinical trial, you are monitored very closely to check how you react to the treatment. If it does not seem to be helping you then a doctor can take you out of a trial. You can leave a trial at any time and standard care and treatment will still be available.

If your doctor asks you if you would like to take part in a clinical trial, the doctor must give you information to help you decide if it is right for you to take part. You will usually meet a specialist research nurse, who will be one of your main points of contact whilst on the trial. They will help you carefully consider what is involved and all the possible benefits and risks. You will also be asked to sign a consent form to take part in the clinical trial itself.

If you have been affected by cancer in some way and would like to talk to someone about what you have read or need help finding information - you are welcome to drop into any Maggie’s Centre or to visit Maggie’s Online Centre and talk with a cancer support specialist.