How clinical trial results are used

This page tells you about the results of clinical trials and what happens when a treatment is proven to work. There is information about

Collecting information

A member of the research team enters the results of everyone’s tests, scans and questionnaires onto a form or computer system. Once they have collected all the information, the statistics experts (statisticians) begin to look at it.
Statisticians use a computer to analyse the results. They look at things like:
  • how well the treatment worked
  • what side effects people had and when
  • how the treatment affected people’s quality of life
Then the research team produce a report to explain what they found.
Read more about what trial results mean.
Clinical trial reports never contain any patient names or other details that could identify you. They are all confidential.

Where to find trial results

Results are usually published in medical journals or presented at meetings and conferences for cancer specialists. We also include a plain English summary of results for many trials on our clinical trial database.

Prescribing new treatments

A new treatment may become a standard treatment if a series of trials show that it is better than the current standard treatment.  But a new treatment, or an existing treatment being used for a new condition, must be licensed before doctors can prescribe it.
Once a drug is licensed, in theory doctors can prescribe it. But it is often some time before it is widely available on the NHS in the UK. NHS doctors usually need to wait for it to be approved before they can prescribe it.
There are several organisations which approve treatments in the UK:
They look at how much treatments cost and how well they work, and decide whether doctors should be able to prescribe them or not.
If the panel who review treatments are not sure whether a treatment should be prescribed or not, they may decide to review it again at a later date once there is more evidence. If this happens, you may be able to get the treatment under the Cancer Drugs Fund system.

Related information


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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