Trials for people from outside the UK
This page is about access to UK clinical trials if you are from overseas. There is information about
We have a database of UK clinical trials, but some of the trials listed are international. If a suitable trial is taking place in your country, it is best to try and join it there.
Trials often take place in many countries because they can recruit the patients they need for the trial more quickly that way. This is particularly important for rare cancers.
You could try looking at overseas trials information databases. These include
- The NCI trials database in the USA
- the European Organisation for Research and Trials in Cancer (EORTC), which runs trials across Europe
- EU clinical trials register, which givesinformation about studies in Europe.
The information on these sites is written in a medical way, but they tell you which trials are running.
It is sometimes possible for patients from overseas to take part in clinical trials in the UK, but it can be very difficult.
People on cancer trials in the UK are nearly always having treatment funded by our National Health Service (NHS). Generally, you can only be treated on the NHS if you are a permanent UK resident.
If you are not a UK resident you would need private health insurance or your own funding. Insurance companies are usually not prepared to pay for treatments that are still being tested in trials.
There are some exceptions to qualification for NHS treatment. As an example, students are often treated without charge.
The NHS Choices website has information about eligibility for NHS care.
You may also find it useful to read our information about coming to the UK for treatment.
People can have private treatment but this is usually very expensive. The drugs used in clinical trials are often supplied free, but other costs need to be met by the hospital taking part in the trial. This includes the costs of
- Any tests you need to have during the trial
- Equipment used to give the treatment
- A hospital bed if inpatient treatment is needed
Bear in mind that any cost for a trial that is suggested to you is only an estimate. If you developed side effects from treatment you had on the trial, there could be added costs for any extra medicines or treatments you needed.
People taking part in clinical trials need close monitoring by the trial doctors. So you may have to stay in the UK for some time.
Unless you have friends or relatives you can stay with, you would need to pay for accommodation. The accommodation would ideally be near the hospital where the clinical trial is going on. It can be extremely expensive if you need to stay in the country for a few weeks or months.
If your health is very poor, joining a clinical trial may not be a suitable option. But if you feel strongly that a trial listed on our database is suitable for you, we suggest you talk to your own doctors. If they agree, they can contact the trial doctor in the UK and discuss the possibility of you joining the trial.
Our trials database aims to provide people with information about clinical trials going on in the UK for all types of cancer. But we can't say who will be able to join these trials.
The decision about whether you can join a trial depends on the type and stage of your cancer, as well as your age and your general health. Your specialist may decide that another treatment option is more suitable for you.