Questions to ask

Here are some questions you might like to ask before deciding whether to take part in a trial. Your doctor or nurse will probably answer most of these when they tell you about the trial.

General questions

  • What is the trial called?
  • What is the point of the trial and how will it help people?
  • Why have I been invited to take part?
  • What are the benefits of the trial for me?
  • How long is the trial expected to last?
  • Can I withdraw from the trial at any time? (The answer should always be yes.)
  • How long will it be before the results of the trial are known? (Remember that it may be some time before the results are available. It’s not unusual for trials to take years rather than months. While doctors may see quite soon whether people respond to a new treatment, it will take much longer to see how long the response will last.)
  • Will I be informed of the results?

Practical questions

You may also want to ask some practical questions to make sure you’re happy with any demands that the trial will make on you.

  • How much of my time will be needed?
  • Will I need to take extra time off work?
  • Will I need extra help from family and friends?
  • Will my fares to and from the trial centre be paid? If so, how can I claim the costs back?
  • What extra tests or appointments will I have?
  • Will I have to collect the drug from the hospital, will it be sent to me by post or will I get it through my GP?
  • Will I have to fill in questionnaires or keep a diary? (Sometimes questionnaires are simple tick-box lists; or you may be asked to record your answers on line.)
  • What are the possible side effects of the treatment?
  • How might the treatment affect me physically and emotionally?
  • Who can I contact if I have a problem? Will someone be available 24 hours a day?

Back to Can and should I take part?

Benefits and risks

There are benefits and risks to taking part in a clinical trial.

Safety in clinical trials

Your safety will be closely monitored if you take part in a clinical trial.

Taking part in a trial

Clinical trials are confidential and you won’t be entered into one without giving your consent.

Finding out about current trials

You can search online for clinical trials abroad and in the UK or you can speak to your cancer doctor.