Cancer research trials are carried out to try to find new and better treatments for cancer. Trials that are carried out on patients are known as clinical trials. Clinical trials may be carried out to:
Trials are the only reliable way to find out if a different operation or other treatment is better than those which are already available.
Taking part in a trial
You may be asked to take part in a treatment research trial. There can be many benefits in doing this. Trials help to improve knowledge about cancer and the development of new treatments. You will also be carefully monitored during and after the study. Usually, several hospitals around the country take part in these trials.
Blood and tumour samples
Many blood samples and bone marrow or tumour biopsies may be taken to help make the right diagnosis. You may be asked for permission to use some of your samples for research into cancer. If you are taking part in a trial you may also be asked to give other samples which may be frozen and stored for future use, when new research techniques become available. These samples will have your name removed from them (made anonymous) so you can't be identified.
The research may be carried out at the hospital where you are treated, or it may take place at another hospital. This type of research takes a long time, so you are unlikely to hear the results. The samples will, however, be used to increase knowledge about the causes of cancer and its treatment. This research will, hopefully, improve the outlook for future patients.