Benefits and risks of trials

Clinical trials are designed to benefit you as much as possible. Whatever treatment you have, there are procedures in place to make sure any risks of trials are as low as possible

Benefits of taking part in a trial

Taking part in a trial means you may benefit from a new treatment that might not be available except in the trial. The new treatment may work better than the standard treatment. By standard treatment, we mean the most effective treatment available now.

Trial results tell doctors which treatments will benefit future patients the most.

When you take part in a trial, researchers carefully monitor you. They may want you to have regular tests during or after treatment, such as blood tests and CT scans. Your research team may also ask you extra questions about how you are feeling. All this means they can see any changes in your health and deal with them as soon as possible. Some people find this reassuring. You still have follow-up appointments with your cancer doctor after the trial.

Possible risks or disadvantages of taking part in a trial

With any trial, there is a small risk that the treatment could harm you. Or you could get unpleasant or unexpected side effects. During the trial, researchers try to reduce these risks as much as possible. They monitor you closely, so they can see any issues before they become a problem. Trials are set up to try to be as safe as possible.

Taking part in a trial may involve some practical changes. For example, you may need to go to the hospital or see your GP more often. Sometimes you need to travel to a different hospital. We have a list of suggested questions you can ask about practical issues.

Making a decision

It is important to know there is no right or wrong decision. Any decision you make will be the right one for you at the time. If you decide not to take part in a trial, your cancer doctors and nurses will respect your decision. You do not have to give a reason and it will not influence your future care. Your cancer doctor will give you the standard treatment and care for the type and stage of cancer you have.

Back to Can and should I take part?

Questions to ask

You may like to ask your doctor or nurse some questions before deciding whether to 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.