I have seen a trial that I want to take part in. What do I need to do?
This page has information on what to do if you are interested in taking part in a trial listed on our clinical trials database. There are sections about
Our clinical trials database aims to list all cancer trials that are recruiting patients in the UK. We don't just list trials that Cancer Research UK is running or sponsoring. We have trials run by many other organisations, including drug companies.
We also list trials that are closed to recruitment. The trial teams are analysing the results of the trials before they can publish the results. We then put the trial results up on the database as soon as we have them.
If you are looking for a trial that is recruiting, you just need to pick your cancer type from the drop down menu on the search page. If you want to find closed trials, or trials with results, there are boxes you tick on the search page before you hit search.
To see if a trial is suitable, you need to look at the eligibility criteria. In our trial summaries, this information is in the section on who can join the trial.
To be able to make sense of a trial's results, researchers need to be able to compare the outcome for all those who took part. So they need to be very specific about the group of people (the population) who join the trial. For example, they are likely to decide on a single cancer type and often a particular cancer stage. There will usually be many other criteria that have been carefully worked out at the trial planning stage.
However much you want to, you can't join a trial if you don’t meet the criteria that have been set. When a trial is in the papers we sometimes get enquiries asking if people can join with a different type of cancer. Trials don't allow this. It wouldn’t be a good idea because different cancer types respond to different types of treatment. Doctors need to know whether a new treatment is better than the existing treatment for, say, people with lung cancer. Having people with other types of cancer in the same trial wouldn't help us to find that out.
If you see a trial on our database that you are interested in, you need to discuss it with your own doctor or cancer specialist. To help you, you can print off a copy of the information and take it along with you.
If the trial looks suitable for you, your doctor needs to contact a doctor in the trial team to ask if you can take part. This is called a medical referral. Generally, having a medical referral is the only way you can join a trial. You should talk to your own doctor first, rather than trying to contact the people running the trial. They will not be able to sign you up to the trial without your doctor’s input.
Each trial we list includes contact details for the Cancer Research UK Information Nurses. You can contact them if you have any general questions about taking part in a trial. And you can talk through your circumstances to find out if the trial is likely to be suitable. But only your own doctor say for sure that a trial is suitable for you because they have all your medical details. The information nurses are not directly involved with the trials and can’t recruit you.
You can phone the nurses on 0808 800 4040 (freephone) 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Or you can use our send us a question form.
There may be a reason that your doctor thinks a particular trial would not be right for you. If you are keen to be involved in a clinical trial, they might know of another one that would be suitable.
Some trials are designed to invite specific groups of people to join, for example, people registered with a GP in a particular area, or people having treatment at a specific cancer centre. You cannot volunteer for these trials. If this is the case, we clearly explain that in the trial details.
In each trial summary, we list the towns and cites that have a centre taking part. The Cancer Research UK Information Nurses can tell you more about where a trial is running, so that your doctor can refer you to the nearest centre. Some trials take place in many hospitals throughout the country, so there may well be one nearby. But other trials may only run in one place, or in just a few hospitals. They may not be in the same part of the country as you. This is something that you would also need to discuss with your doctor. You may still be able to take part, but it could involve a lot of extra travelling, or even staying near the trial centre for a time. So it is important to think about this carefully.
The process for joining a trial involves an experienced trials nurse or doctor explaining all about what taking part in the trial involves. Our database isn't intended to replace this process in any way.
By law, researchers must explain to you what the trial involves before you agree to take part. You then sign a consent form to say you understand, what taking part in the trial means. This is called informed consent. To give informed consent, you must have been provided with a lot information including
- What the trial is trying to find out
- What treatments you may have
- The likely risks and side effects
- The possible benefits
- Tests or check ups you will need to have
- How often you will have follow up appointments and for how long
- Whether any of your blood or tissue samples will be kept or used for further research
This information should all be included in a patient information sheet (PIS), or patient information leaflet (PIL). The research team will give you a copy of one of these. The information we provide is not intended to replace a PIS.
Rated 5 out of 5 based on 5 votes
Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team