Clinical trials

Promising new cancer drugs are developed in the laboratory and translated into better treatments for cancer patients using clinical trials. Trials are an important final step in a long process to prove the effectiveness and safety of cancer treatments. Trial treatments may involve radiotherapy, chemotherapy, surgery, molecular therapy, and complementary therapies. Many people with cancer are now living longer, with a better quality of life, due to clinical trials. 

Why participate in a clinical trial?

Participants in clinical trials: Doctors talking

  • can play a more active role in their own health care
  • gain access to new research treatments before they're widely available to the public
  • help others by contributing to medical research.

Clinical trials are the best way of testing a new treatment, or seeing whether a particular treatment works better than another.

All clinical trials must be approved by a Victorian Human Research Ethics Committee before recruitment can begin. This approval process provides assurance to participants that their rights and any research benefits and risks have been carefully considered.


Fore more information see our booklet, Understanding Clinical Trials and Research.

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Common clinical trial myths

Myth 1: "If I take part in a trial, I won't get the best treatment available."
Fact:  Participants will receive at least the same quality of care you would expect if you weren't on a trial. Generally, trial participants receive standard care (the best known treatment) or a new treatment that doctors believe is better than the standard treatment.

Myth 2: "There's no point taking part in a trial as I won't benefit."
Fact: There are advantages to being involved in a clinical trial like accessing programs, medicines or treatments that aren't widely available. However, joining a study doesn't always mean you will be better off than before or compared to other people in a similar situation. Either way you'll be informed of all possible risks and benefits before making a decision.

Myth 3: "Clinical trials are risky."
Fact: Researchers must follow strict guidelines to ensure studies are as safe as possible for everyone involved, and all studies must be approved by specially appointed research and ethics committees.

Myth 4: "Clinical trials are only available at hospitals in capital cities."
Fact: Many rural and regional hospitals have an active clinical research program. Talk to your treating team to get involved.

Updated: 20 May, 2016