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Frequently Asked Questions

If you are interested in a clinical trial, check out our frequently asked questions to learn more about participating.

Q: What is a Clinical Trial?

A clinical trial is a research study examining how patients respond to different treatments for various types of cancer. Studies address their challenges using the scientific method to identify new or better ways to treat, diagnose, and prevent cancer-related diseases.

Q: Who Can Participate in a Clinical Trial?

Participation in a clinical trial depends on the type of trial.

  • Prevention trials need volunteers who want to prevent cancer or a recurrence.
  • Screening trials need participants who show no signs of cancer.
  • Diagnostic trials enroll participants who show signs or symptoms of cancer.
  • Treatment trials enroll current cancer patients.

Patients currently receiving treatment must meet specific criteria to be enrolled in a clinical trial including age, gender, cancer type, stage of cancer, previous treatments, current medications, lab results and history of cancer.

Q: What do Clinical Trials Study?

Most clinical trials test newly developed drug therapies, new combinations of drug therapies, or new ways of using existing drugs. Trials may also study new or different technologies for treating cancer.

Q: Do Clinical Trials Always Involve New, Untested Drug Therapies?

No. A clinical trial may also test new combinations of drug therapies, or new technologies for treating cancer. Trials studying medications may focus on new drugs or different ways of using existing drugs.

Q: If I Participate in a Clinical Trial, Will I be Given a Placebo?

The vast majority of participants in clinical trials receive either the current standard of treatment or the clinical therapy being studied. Placebos are only used in clinical trials when no other proven treatment for cancer exists. If a proven treatment is available, it is unethical to give a placebo to clinical trial participants. When another proven treatment exists, trials compare the new treatment to the current standard treatment.

Q: What Are the Risks and Benefits of Participating in a Clinical Trial?

Participating in a clinical trial is a personal decision, and you should discuss the risks and benefits with your physician. You may experience unpleasant or serious side effects, treatments may not be effective and the trial may require more time than the standard treatment. However, participating in a clinical trial allows you to be actively involved in your healthcare, access new treatments and expert medical care, and help further medical research.

Q: If I Start a Clinical Trial Do I Have to Finish It?

Your participation in a clinical trial is voluntary. You may leave the trial at any time, but you should consult your physician first to discuss your options, as well as how leaving the trial may impact your health. If you choose to leave a clinical trial, your healthcare team may want to monitor your to check for long-term effects of treatment.