Research – clinical trials

Clinical trials are medical research trials involving patients. Doctors use trials to improve cancer treatment and care. They may be carried out to: 

  • test a new drug
  • research different ways of carrying out an operation
  • research a new way of giving a type of treatment.

Clinical trials provide the evidence that is needed for doctors and patients so they know which treatments are the safest and most effective.

You may be asked to take part in a treatment research trial. If you decide to take part, you will be carefully monitored during and after the study. During a trial, blood and tumour samples may be taken. You may be asked for your permission to use some of your samples for research into cancer.

If you decide not to take part in a trial, your decision will be respected. There will be no change in the way that you’re treated and you’ll be offered the standard treatment for your situation.

Current research is looking at whether different combinations of chemotherapy or targeted therapies can help to control the growth of some soft tissue sarcomas that have spread.

Research – clinical trials

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. These may be carried out to:

  • test new treatments, such as new chemotherapy drugs or targeted therapies 
  • look at new combinations of existing treatments, or change the way they are given to make them more effective or reduce side effects
  • compare the effectiveness of drugs used to control symptoms
  • find out how cancer treatments work
  • find out which treatments are the most cost-effective.

Trials are the only reliable way to find out if a different type of surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiotherapy, or other treatment is better than what is already available


Taking part in a trial

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 will 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.

If you decide not to take part in a trial, your decision will be respected and you don’t have to give a reason. However, it can help to let the staff know your concerns so that they can give you the best advice. There will be no change in the way that you’re treated by the hospital staff, and you’ll be offered the standard treatment for your situation.

We have more information about cancer research trials (clinical trials).


Blood and tumour samples

Blood and tumour samples 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. If you take part in a trial, you may also give other samples, which  may be frozen and stored for future use when new research techniques become available. Your name will be removed from the samples so you can’t be identified.

The research may be carried out at the hospital where you are treated, or at another one. This type of research takes a long time, and results may not be available for many years. The samples will be used to increase knowledge about the causes of cancer and its treatment, which will hopefully improve the outlook for future patients.


Currrent research

A number of research trials are looking at whether different combinations of chemotherapy or targeted therapies can help to control the growth of some soft tissue sarcomas that have spread. Your cancer specialist will be able to tell you more about these trials.

Back to Can and should I take part?

Safety in clinical trials

All clinical trials must meet high standards of practice, be approved by an ethics committee and closely monitored for safety.