How to join a clinical trial

This page has information on what to do if you are interested in taking part in a trial, including those listed on our clinical trials database. There are sections about

Finding a suitable trial
Finding out where a trial is taking place
Joining a trial


Finding a suitable trial

One way to find a suitable trial is to look at our clinical trials database

The database includes many trials for different types of cancer, some of which are funded by Cancer Research UK.

All trials have a list of entry conditions called eligibility criteria. If you don’t meet these conditions, you won’t be able to join that trial. But there may be other ones available for you. 

Find out more about who can take part in a clinical trial.

Each trial on our clinical trials database includes a list of the main eligibility criteria in the ‘who can enter’ section. We often get asked if people can take part in a trial for a new treatment they’ve heard about, even if they have a different cancer, or cancer at a different stage. Unfortunately, they can’t. 

Finding out where a trial is taking place

Many trials run at several different hospitals. Some only run at one or two hospitals.

In each trial summary on our database, we list the towns and cities that have a centre taking part. You can see this information under the 'location' tab.

The nearest centre may not be in the same part of the country as you. This is something that you would 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 Cancer Research UK Information Nurses can tell you more about where a trial is running, so your doctor can refer you to the nearest centre.

Joining a trial

The only way to join most trials is for your doctor to contact a doctor involved with the trial. This is called a medical referral.

You need to speak to your own doctor or cancer specialist if you see a trial on our database that you are interested in. You may find it helps to print off a copy of the information and take it along with you.

Each trial on our database 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. Or if you want to talk about whether the trial is likely to be suitable for you.

But the information nurses are not directly involved with the trial, so they cannot help you join. Only a doctor or research nurse involved with the trial can do that.

You can phone the nurses on 0808 800 4040 (freephone) 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Or you can use our form to send us a question.

Some trials are designed differently. They may invite a specific group 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 can't volunteer for these trials. If this is the case, we clearly explain that in the trial details.

Related information

We have information about

Who can take part in a clinical trial

Trials for people from outside the UK

What you should be told about a clinical trial


Last reviewed

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Find a trial

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