What are clinical trials?

A clinical trial is a research study that is designed to test the effectiveness and safety of new medical treatments for conditions and diseases, such as cancer. People volunteer to participate in clinical trials. Clinical trials are part of the evidence-gathering process that must take place before a drug/treatment can receive government approval and become widely available.

Is anyone eligible to participate in clinical trials?

Clinical trials have specific eligibility requirements. For example, treatments you already have taken may exclude you from participating in a certain trial.

What are the benefits of participating in clinical trials?

Clinical trials provide an opportunity to access new drugs or treatments that are not yet available to the public, at no cost to you. By participating in a clinical trial, you are also helping others by contributing to the field of medical research.

What are the risks of participating in clinical trials?

You cannot choose the treatment you are going to receive in a clinical trial. You may receive the experimental treatment, the standard treatment to which it is being compared, or even a placebo. If you receive the experimental treatment, you may also experience some unanticipated side effects, however you will always be closely monitored by your doctors.

How can I participate in a clinical trial?

Speak with your health care provider about participating in a trial that may be suitable for you. You can also use the Internet to search for clinical trials. Canadian Cancer Trials is an online national database of clinical trials in Canada.

Links to more information

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Clinical Trials: A Guide for People with Cancer
Canadian Cancer Society

Clinical Trials

Canadian Cancer Trials
Canadian Partnership Against Cancer

U.S. National Institutes of Health

Clinical Trials
National Cancer Institute