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Cancer Clinical Trials during COVID-19: Information for People with Cancer

Woman holding a tablet showing a clinical trial summary

Visit NCI’s clinical trials site or clinicaltrials.gov for information about which trials are open and where they are taking place.

Credit: iStock

How has COVID-19 affected clinical trials?

The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on trials varies depending on where you live. In regions with fewer cases of COVID-19, clinical trials may not be greatly affected. In these places, patients are still getting treatment in trials and new patients can join trials.

In places with many more COVID-19 cases, some sites may have stopped enrolling new patients for a while. But they continue to focus on caring for patients who are already in trials.

How is NCI managing clinical trials during COVID-19?

Questions about cancer clinical trials?

NCI’s Cancer Information Service can help answer questions about clinical trials by phone, email, or live chat.

We are closely watching the clinical trials that we support. We are working with sites to make changes when possible to make sure that patients continue to receive care and researchers can keep studies open.

We have already given sites that run trials more flexibility. For instance, the timing of patient tests and assessments can sometimes be adjusted. Investigators are working with the Institutional Review Board that oversees each study to make sure that any changes will not harm patient safety or the validity of the data collected in the trial.

What types of changes have been made to clinical trials?

Clinical trials have already changed in a few ways. For instance:

  • If the risks of exposing you to COVID-19 outweigh the benefits of an in-person visit, the visit may be delayed, skipped, or held by phone or videoconference.
  • Your local health care provider may carry out some of the care normally provided by the clinical trial team. Examples of such care include physical exams and blood draws.
  • When it comes to treatments, trial sites may ship some oral drugs that are being tested in clinical trials right to you. That way, you don’t have to go to the hospital to pick them up.

How will I know if my clinical trial changes?

If you are taking part in a trial that has changed, the team running the trial will contact you to explain.

If you are enrolled in a trial and have questions, call the team running the trial.

What should I do if I am interested in enrolling in a cancer clinical trial during the pandemic?

Talk with your oncologist or nurse about your options. You can visit clinicaltrials.gov or NCI’s clinical trials site for information about which trials are open and where they are taking place.

Are there trials for people with cancer and COVID-19?

NCI supports clinical trials to test treatments for people with COVID-19 and to learn more about its effects on the body. Some of the trials are for people with cancer. For more information, see NCI-Supported Clinical Trials for Coronavirus. Your doctor can help you decide if a trial is right for you.

Are trials still taking place at the NIH Clinical Center?

Many cancer clinical trials at the NIH Clinical Center remain open. But new patients are being accepted on a more selective, case-by-case basis.

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