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Cancer research trials are carried out to try to find new and better treatments for cancer. Trials that are carried out on patients are known as clinical trials|.
Clinical trials may be carried out to:
Trials are the only reliable way to find out if different treatments are better than what is already available.
You may be asked to take part in a treatment research trial. There can be many benefits in doing this. Trials help to improve knowledge about cancer and develop new treatments.
You’ll be carefully monitored during and after the study. Usually, several hospitals around the country take part in these trials. It’s important to bear in mind that some treatments that look promising at first are often later found not to be as good as existing treatments, or to have side effects that outweigh the benefits.
The process of clinical trials is described in more detail in our section on Understanding cancer research trials (clinical trials)|.
Blood samples and bone marrow or tumour biopsies may be taken to help make the right diagnosis. You may be asked for your permission to use some of your samples for research into cancer. Some samples may be frozen and stored for future use, when new research techniques become available.
This research may be carried out at the hospital where you’re being treated, or it may happen at another hospital. This type of research takes a long time, so you are unlikely to hear the results. The samples will be used to increase knowledge about the causes of cancer and its treatment. This research will hopefully improve the outlook for future patients.
If you are going to have chemotherapy before and after surgery to remove a stomach tumour, you may be asked to take part in a trial called STO3. This trial is trying to find out whether adding a drug called bevacizumab (Avastin®)| to chemotherapy given before and after surgery will improve the results of treatment. Bevacizumab is a type of treatment called a monoclonal antibody|. It is given as a drip (infusion) into a vein and works by stopping cancer from developing new blood vessels.
A trial called REAL 3 is also in progress. It’s looking at whether adding a drug called panitumumab (Vectibix®)|, a type of monoclonal antibody, to chemotherapy will ease symptoms for people who have advanced stomach cancer and are unable to have surgery.
A study called COUGAR-02 is trying to find the best treatment for people who have stomach cancer that’s come back after chemotherapy.
There is a national study to find out about genetic causes of stomach cancer in people who have a family history of stomach cancer or who were diagnosed at a young age (under 40).
There is also a study called SOCS looking at the possible causes of stomach cancer. This is looking for links between a person’s genetic make-up and their environment, as well as their exposure to known risk factors.
Our section on clinical trials| has more information.
Content last reviewed: 1 June 2011
Next planned review: 2013
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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