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How to Find a Cancer Treatment Trial: A 10-Step Guide

  • Updated: 06/08/2010

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A 10-Step Guide to Finding a Cancer Treatment Trial

This guide will help you look for a cancer treatment clinical trial. It does not provide medical advice and should not be used in place of advice from your doctor or other members of your health care team. Your health care team and your loved ones, if you wish, can assist you in deciding whether or not a clinical trial is right for you. The decision to take part in a clinical trial is yours alone to make.

This guide takes you through the following steps:

Step 1: Understand Clinical Trials
Step 2: Talk With Your Doctor
Step 3: Complete the Checklist
Step 4: Search NCI’s List of Trials
Step 5: Other Lists of Trials
Step 6: Identify Potential Trials
Step 7: Contact the Trial Team
Step 8: Ask Questions
Step 9: Talk to Your Doctor
Step 10: Make an Appointment


Helpful Tip: This guide contains links to other Web pages and sites. Links to pages and sites external to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) are included for convenience and informational purposes only. Including these links cannot be taken as an endorsement by NCI of the Web pages and sites. See the NCI Web site’s Disclaimer of Endorsement and Liability policy.

A Word About Timing:

Some treatment trials will not accept people who have already been treated for their cancer. The researchers conducting these trials are hoping to find improved cancer treatments for people with newly diagnosed disease.

  • If you have just found out that you have cancer, the time to think about joining a trial is before you have any treatment. Talk with your doctor about how quickly you need to make a treatment decision.

Other treatment trials are looking for people who have already been treated for their cancer.

  • If you have already had one or more forms of cancer treatment and are looking for a new treatment option, there are still clinical trials for you to think about.

About this Guide:

This original version of this guide was produced collaboratively by:

The U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI): The U.S. Federal government's chief cancer research agency, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and a component the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration: The agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that is charged with ensuring the safety and effectiveness of new drugs and medical products

The Summit Series on Cancer Clinical Trials: A multi-year effort involving health care providers from academic and community cancer centers, representatives of patient advocacy organizations, and others involved in the U.S. cancer clinical trial system that focused on improving awareness and understanding of cancer clinical trials and on increasing the percentage of patients who participate in cancer clinical trials.

The current version of the guide was revised and updated by NCI staff.