Clinical trials

Clinical trials help to find better treatments for many diseases, including cancer.

Clinical trials are medical research studies involving people. People who join clinical trials are always volunteers. Many people with cancer are now living longer, with a better quality of life, due to the findings of clinical trials. 

There are several types of clinical trials designed to answer different research questions about the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. They are an important final step in a long process to prove the effectiveness and safety of  cancer treatments. Cancer treatments that are tested in clinical trials may include  radiotherapychemotherapy, surgery, molecular therapy, and  complementary therapies. These treatments are carefully tested in people across four phases of clinical trials.

Why participate in a clinical trial?

You may decide to join a clinical trial because:

  • The treatment you receive will be at least the best available for your type of cancer
  • Your health may improve because of the treatment you receive
  • You may receive a treatment you would not otherwise have access to
  • Your health will be carefully checked and you will feel supported by the treatment team running the trial
  • You are hopeful that research will lead to a new treatment that will benefit people affected by cancer.


Things to consider when deciding to participate in a clinical trial:

  • Clinical trials may require more time and attention than standard treatment options. For example, you may have more trips to the hospital and more tests throughout your treatment.
  • Clinical trial participants often receive additional personal care and attention from research nurses, doctors and other medical staff due to the nature of being in a clinical trial.
  • Like many established treatments, clinical trials may carry some risks. Before agreeing to join a clinical trial it is important to understand the possible risks and side effects the treatment you are being given, and that the trial treatment may not work for every patient.
  • The decision to participate in a clinical trial is voluntary. If you decide to join a clinical trial and would like to withdraw, you can do so at any time without consequence.
  • If you decide to take part in a clinical trial, you will receive written information about the trial and be asked to sign an informed consent form.
  • In Australia, clinical trials have to be approved by a human research ethics committee before they can begin. This assures participants that their rights and any research benefits and risks have been carefully considered. Every trial is bound by law to follow a set of strict rules or guidelines.

How to find cancer clinical trials in Victoria

You can find information or search for a cancer clinical trial in Victoria on the Victorian Cancer Trials Link website.

Find a trial

More information

Thinking about joining a clinical trial can be overwhelming; there is a lot to take in. It can help to discuss your decision with a clinician or someone you know.

You may like to speak with:

  • An experienced cancer nurse on 13 11 20
  • Your trial or research nurse
  • Your treating team
  • A friend or family member
  • Someone who has previously participated in a clinical trial

Tips on how to start a conversation with your doctor can be found on the Victorian Cancer Trials Link website, as well as a suite of patient experience videos to help you understand what it is like to be involved in a clinical trial.

Clinical trial resources:

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Trial Connect

A free one to one telephone support program to connect people considering participating in a clinical trial with someone who has been treated in clinical trial.

More information


Patient Stories

Hear from four people who have participated in a clinical trial or watch a short video explaining the importance of clinical trials.

View patient stories

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Listen to our presenters as they share their experiences as patients and health professionals involved in clinical trials, with the aim of increasing your understanding about clinical trials and the importance of clinical trials in cancer care.

Watch the webinar

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

Download PDF Order FREE booklet

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Call or email our experienced cancer nurses for information and support.

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