Clinical trials

Your doctors may suggest you take part in a clinical trial.

Clinical trials are done for lots of reasons. The most common type is a treatment trial. This may:

  • test new treatments, such as new chemotherapy drugs
  • look at new combinations of existing treatments
  • change the way a treatment is given, to make it work better or to reduce side effects.

You will only take part in a trial if your doctors think that is the best treatment for you. Any clinical trial is strictly controlled, so you may need to visit the hospital more often.

Some trials are ‘randomised’. This means that the details of all the people taking part are fed into a computer, and the treatment is chosen at random by a computer programme. All the possible treatments are good, so you are not missing out if the computer does not choose a particular treatment for you. Trials are often randomised because if the researchers or doctors were to decide who should get which treatment, they might be influenced by what they know about their patients.

Your doctors won’t put any pressure on you to join a clinical trial, and they will talk to you about any concerns you have.

You can’t be put into a trial without your written consent if you are aged over 16, or your parent or guardian's consent if you are under 16. If you decide to say no to a trial it is not a problem, and you will be given the best treatment available at the time.

We have more information about clinical trials. This information is written for all age groups.