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How do you find a trial?

Women discussing trials

People often ask us how they can find out about clinical trials. This page tells you how you might go about doing this and includes information on

 

Talking to your specialist

If you want to join a trial, you usually have to be referred by your doctor.  So start by asking your cancer specialist. There may be a trial locally which would suit you. Your specialist will know about any large national, or international, trials for your type of cancer and will be able to tell you if they are suitable for you. This is the most straightforward approach to finding a trial, as your specialist will have all your test results, records and reports and will know whether a trial is right for you.

 

Our clinical trials database

We have a searchable database of cancer trials. We don't only include Cancer Research UK trials. We aim to include information on all trials and studies that recruit people in the UK, funded by a wide range of organisations. The database helps people affected by cancer to find out more about what is happening in the world of cancer research. All our information is written in plain English, so that it is as easy as possible to understand.

You may be interested in finding out about cancer research in general. But you may also see a particular trial that you are interested in. The best thing to do then, is to discuss it with your own doctor. There is a process for joining a trial that is time consuming, but important. This involves an experienced trials nurse or doctor explaining all about the trial, what may happen and about any possible risks. Our database isn't intended to replace this process in any way. If you find a trial that you are interested in, we suggest you print off the information and take it to your own doctor to discuss. Very few specialists would mind this. They will be only too pleased to refer you if the trial really is suitable for you.

You can search the database for trials for different types and stages of cancer. Or for different types of treatment. Use this link to go to the clinical trials database.

 

Finding out more about trials

The contact details for the Cancer Research UK information nurses are on each summary on the trials database. They can talk through the trial with you and tell you where it is taking place. So if you would prefer to discuss a trial with someone before you approach your own doctor, you can ring or email them. But only your own doctor, who has all your medical details, can check for sure whether a trial is suitable for you and refer you to the doctor running the trial.

People sometimes ask us if the information nurses can register their interest in trials. Unfortunately this is not something you can do via our website or the information nurses. You need to speak to your own doctor.

When researchers plan a trial, they have to work out how they will find the people to take part. Very often it will be cancer specialists who ask people if they would be willing to take part. But sometimes GPs or other health care professionals may invite people to take part in studies.

Most studies have very strict entry conditions called eligibility criteria. This is to make sure the people taking part are as similar as possible. Occasionally, studies are designed to include a wide range of people and the researchers might ask a large number of people from a particular area of the country, or from GP practices. 

Remember – if you see a trial you are interested in on our trials database, print off the page and take it to your own doctor to discuss.

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Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team

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Updated: 10 October 2013