What are clinical trials?
Cancer clinical trials are research studies in which people volunteer to test new ways to prevent, diagnose, treat or manage cancer. Participation in a clinical trial may be recommended by a specialist, or some people ask their doctors about studies that might be suitable. Your treatment team can help you find out more.
Learn more about clinical trials and research
Questions to ask about this service
When looking at a service it is important to ask questions about how the service works before you decide to engage with them. Below is a list of questions you might like to ask when enquiring about a service.
Am I eligible?
Some services have specific criteria that a person must meet before they are able to use a service, for example location, means testing or a specific cancer type. It is important to know if you are eligible to access a service right from the start.
Do I need a referral?
Some services require a referral from your specialist, GP or a social worker. This helps to make sure that the right patients are being connected with the right services. It’s a good idea to ask if a referral is needed and if so, exactly what type of referral the service requires.
How much will this cost me?
Some services are free, and some come at a cost. At a time when people should be focused on their treatment and recovery, the cost of cancer can be a source of stress and worry for many. It’s a good idea to ask about the fees attached to a service and if there are any subsidies or benefits you might be eligible for before committing to the service. It’s important to know that you are within your rights to ask about the cost of a service or treatment before agreeing to take part. For more information you can visit cancer and your finances.
Is there a wait time?
Sometimes demand for a service is high which can cause wait times. You might find it helpful to ask if there are any wait times for the services you are looking at, especially if you require support as soon as possible.
Will I be treated as an inpatient or an outpatient?
Depending on the type of treatment or care you are receiving you may be seen as an inpatient or an outpatient. You are considered an inpatient if you have been admitted to the hospital for treatment. Alternatively, you are considered an outpatient when you receive treatment at a hospital, but without being admitted. It’s important to know if you are going to be treated as an inpatient or an outpatient as this can impact the cost of treatment, and will help you to understand the amount of time you might need to spend at the hospital.
Who works on cancer clinical trials?
A team of people work on research studies, and some of their roles may overlap. If you decide to join a clinical trial or other research study, you may have contact with all or some of these people:
- Investigator – also known as a researcher, an investigator develops and plans research studies, and obtains, analyses and publishes the results.
- Nurse or research assistant – coordinates finding people for the trial (recruitment) by talking to potential participants, making sure they are eligible and explaining the purpose of the trial, and acts as a link between the patient and the researchers or the health care team.
- Study coordinator – ensures the trial meets ethical and legal requirements and applies for grants and manages budgets.
- Cancer specialist – may be a medical oncologist, surgeon, radiation oncologist or haematologist. A cancer specialist supervises your treatment, follow-up and overall care.
- Other professionals – including a pharmacist, allied health practitioners and complementary therapists.
In most cases, your cancer specialist will continue to look after your overall cancer care while you are on a clinical trial or other research study.
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