Finding out about clinical trials

To be able to take part in a trial, your cancer specialist or GP has to refer you to the doctor in charge of the trial. It can sometimes be difficult to find a trial to take part in. Your cancer specialist or specialist nurse should be able to tell you about trials in your area, and they may know of other trials that might be suitable for you. Not all hospitals have the facilities or expertise to take part in some trials, so you may have to travel to a different hospital.

If you’ve been invited to take part in a clinical trial, you may be introduced to a research nurse. They can tell you all about the trial and answer your questions.

If you’d like to find out about other trials that may be suitable, our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00 can give you information about current trials available nationwide.

You can search for trials in the UK on websites such as:

Taking part in a clinical trial abroad

It can sometimes be possible to take part in a trial abroad. This may mean that you have to pay for the treatment as well as your travel costs, which can be very expensive. Try to get as much information as possible about the trials from trustworthy sources and websites. It’s a good idea to be cautious of trials run by small clinics rather than research hospitals. Also, be careful to avoid trials offering ‘miracle cures’, often at great expense, as these are unlikely to help you.

You can discuss any trials with your cancer specialist, who can give you further advice. Trials conducted abroad may not be regulated in the same strict way that trials in the UK are.

You can search for trials abroad on websites such as the US website National Cancer Institute. This website also lists UK trials.

Influencing future research

New clinical trials are being set up all the time. Some are started by the government-funded Medical Research Council (MRC) or the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI). Others are started by charities such as Cancer Research UK. Clinical trials are also set up by international organisations or drug companies.

Many of these organisations have patient groups that help to decide on areas that need further research. Cancer specialists are very aware of the gaps in their understanding of the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, but patients, their families and friends may see other aspects of their care that need further research. If you have any thoughts about research that might be useful, talk to your doctor or nurse.

The organisation INVOLVE has information and advice about how you can get involved with research.

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.