Help Finding NCI-Supported Clinical Trials
This page explains how to use the clinical trials search form to find NCI-supported clinical trials and review the results of your searches. It is helpful to gather as much information as possible before a search. Information such as the specific type and stage of cancer, the type of trial that might be relevant (treatment, diagnostic, supportive care), and other details about the patient will be helpful. Speak with a health care provider to gather this information and make sure you review the information that you find with the health care provider.
- In general, the more criteria you specify, the fewer clinical trials your search will retrieve. Using our basic search, you can search by cancer type or keyword, or enter your age to determine which trials are right for you. You can also search for trials near a specific ZIP Code.
- To focus your search, you can specify more detailed information about the trials you wish to view or even search by a clinical trial identification number using our advanced search.
- Skip any items on the form that you don't know or that don't apply to you.
- Using your browser’s back button will not retain the search criteria you may have already entered. Using the back button will require you to start a new search.
If you have questions while working with the search form, you can call 1-800-4-CANCER for help from the NCI Cancer Information Service. You can also contact LiveHelp, NCI's online chat service, for help. The last section of this Help document has more details about LiveHelp and our phone service.
How to Find Clinical Trials Using the Basic Search Form
The basic clinical trials search form allows you to search for trials by keyword, cancer type, age or by Zip Code. Information can be added to any, or all, of the fields to narrow or widen the search.
- To search by keyword or cancer type, begin typing and then select a cancer type from the list that appears. Alternatively, you can also just type in your keyword (without making a selection)
- To search by age, enter a number between 1 and 100.
- Entering a Zip Code will show trials within a 100-mile radius.
How to Find Clinical Trials Using the Advanced Search Form
The advanced clinical trials search form allows you to search for trials using one or more criteria. An advanced search allows for searching by Cancer Type/Condition, Age, Keywords, Location, Trial Type, Drug/Treatment, Trial Phase, Trial ID, Trial Investigators and/or by Lead Organization.
Use this field to search by the type of cancer being studied in a clinical trial(s), e.g., bladder cancer, prostate cancer. Choosing “All” will return a list of all trials in the database.
Multiple criteria can be selected from the type ahead boxes for Subtype, Stage, Side Effects, State, Drug and Other Treatments.
There are two different ways to choose multiple criteria from the fields – use the type ahead feature to find a term, or use the dropdown list to check a term, or terms.
The search though can be narrowed and focused by adding more information:
- Choosing a primary cancer type will result in the subtype and stage boxes becoming available. The subtype and stage boxes are not dependent on each other.
- If a subtype is selected, the Side Effects section will have options that are based on the subtype.
- If a stage is selected then the Side Effects section will have options that are based on the selected stage.
Enter an age – between 1 and 100— in this field to find relevant clinical trials for you.
Search for trials that contain the word or phrase you enter into the search box. For best results, use this search option in combination with other search fields. For example, to search for breast cancer trials for a patient who is HER-2 negative, choose breast cancer from the Cancer Type option and enter "HER-2 negative" in the keyword box.
- Use quote marks around a phrase to search for trials containing the whole phrase.
- Some trials you retrieve may contain the word or phrase as part of an exclusion criteria.
- Results are presented by order of relevance to the word or phrase entered.
- Using general words like cancer or disease will retrieve a large number of trials that may not be relevant.
Location of Trial
Use these options to search for trials near a specific zip code, in a city and state, or to search internationally. You can also narrow your search to trials only at a Veterans Affairs facility, or at the NIH clinical center in Bethesda, MD, or at a specific Hospital/Institution.
Limit to Veterans Affairs facilities
Move this slider to “yes” to narrow your results to trials that take place at a Veterans Affairs facility, including a Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) or Community-Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs). When “yes” is selected, Hospitals/Institutions and At NIH are disabled.
Near ZIP Code
Enter either your zip code to search for trials in your area or the zip code of another area of interest.
By default, searches are limited to within 100 miles of the zip code that you enter. Use the drop-down list to change this to choices between 20 and 500 miles.
Enter a combination of country, state, city to search for trials in that area.
You can select one or more U.S. states using the State list (this list is only available if US is selected as the country).
Use this search option if you are looking for trials conducted at a specific hospital or institution. Start the search by entering at least three letters of a hospital’s or institution’s name.
The search results will list trials that include any of the names you selected.
Use this field to find trials taking place at military or VA hospitals. To find VA facilities, enter the three letters “vet.” This will display the VA facilities in the database.
At NIH Only
Select the At NIH button to show only trials being conducted at the NIH Clinical Center (Bethesda, MD.). See our page on Cancer Clinical Trials at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center for more information.
Use this list to choose the type of trial. Some trials fall into more than one category. You may check more than one box or select "All." To only show trials that are accepting healthy volunteers, move the slider to “yes.” The following trial types are available:
- Treatment - trials that test how safe new treatments are and how well they work.
- Supportive care - trials that study ways to prevent or relieve side effects of cancer and its treatment, and ways to improve patients' quality of life during and after treatment.
- Basic Science
- Screening - trials that check for cancer in people who do not have any signs of cancer.
- Prevention - trials that study ways to prevent cancer.
- Diagnostic - trials that study tests and procedures to diagnose cancer, find out if cancer has spread in the body, or test how well cancer responds to treatment.
- Health services research - trials that study how health care is provided to people.
Enter at least three letters in this field to look up a drug. You can enter a brand name or a generic name to search. The results will return the generic name for a drug, but the brand name will show up in “Other Names.”
You can use different drug names such as generic, brand/trade, and short names to search. For example, you can use Avastin (brand name) or bevacizumab (generic name).
You can also look up a treatment or intervention name. For example, use this option to find trials that are using "high-dose rate brachytherapy" or "brachytherapy."
The search results will list trials that include any of the treatments/interventions you selected.
Use this field to select the phase of trial. Most clinical trials are designated as phase I, II, III, or IV, based on the type of questions the trial is trying to answer. You may select one or more trial phases, or choose "All."
- Phase I - trials that test the best way to give a new treatment (for example, by mouth, intravenous infusion, or injection) and the best dose.
- Phase II - trials that test whether a new treatment has an anticancer effect (for example, whether it shrinks a tumor or improves blood test results) and whether it works against certain types of cancer.
- Phase III - trials that compare the results of people taking a new treatment with the results of people taking the standard treatment (for example, which groups have better survival rates or fewer side effects).
- Phase IV - trials that evaluate side effects that were not apparent in the phase III trial.
A Trial ID is an identification (ID) number that makes it easy to find a specific trial. Use this field only if you know the ID number or partial ID for a specific trial.
- Enter one or more protocol IDs, separating them with commas or semicolons.
- You can search identification numbers from NCI ID, NCT ID and other Institution IDs.
- The search results will list trials that include any of the IDs you entered.
Use this option to select medical professionals and researchers who are conducting the trial. Enter one or more characters for autosuggest to appear while looking up an investigator name.
- The search results will list trials that include any of the investigator names you selected.
Use this option if you wish to search by name for an academic hospital, research institute, pharmaceutical company, or cancer center responsible for coordinating the trial. Enter one or characters for autosuggest to appear while looking up the name.
Help With Your Clinical Trial Search Results
The Search Results page displays a list of trials that match the criteria that you selected on the search form. On this page, you can:
- Have search criteria be displayed or hidden by clicking on the bar at the top of the page.
- Select multiple trials by checking on them, or select “All on Page.”
- Print all selected trials.
- Select options for live help chat and a link to an online checklist are available on the right of the page.
Help with Understanding Trial Descriptions
This section will help you understand the information that is shown for each trial.
Summary - An outline of the purpose of the study and a general description of what is being done.
Further Study Information - More details about the study, for example, specific information about the treatment plan.
Eligibility Criteria - A list of the requirements a person must meet to participate in the trial. The criteria may be labeled "Inclusion" or "Exclusion." See definition of eligibility criteria.
Trial Contact Information- Information about contacts that you can call or e-mail about this trial. You or your health care provider may want to look for contacts that are close to your location.
Trial Lead Organizations- A list of one or more academic hospitals, research institutions, pharmaceutical companies, cancer centers responsible for coordinating the trial.
Trial Sites - The people or organizations conducting the trial. They can provide more information about the trial, including eligibility and the enrollment process. Sometimes there may be a central number for all sites and the name of the hospital/institution may not be provided.
From a selected, individual trial page, you can:
- Expand "Description" to see information about the purpose of the trial and other relevant information.
- Expand “Eligibility Criteria” and see the requirements that must be met for an individual to be included in a trial.
- Choose to see the locations and contact information for the trial by expanding the “Locations & Contacts” button.
- Expand “Trial Objectives and Outline” to see the primary and secondary objectives for the clinical trial as well as an outline of how the trial will progress.
- Expand “Trial Phase & Type” to see the phase and trial type for the selected trial.
- Expand “Lead Organization” to view the lead organization on the trial and the principal investigator.
- Expand “Trial IDs” to view the primary and secondary IDs for the trial as well as the links to Clinicaltrials.gov.
From the results page, you can select one or more trials using the checkboxes, and click on "Print Selected" to print out the full trial details for single or multiple records. The printed records will have information useful for discussing clinical trial options with your physician to find the best fit.
To start a new search, click on "Start Over" above the list of results at the top of the page.
Modifying Your Search
Click the "Modify Search Criteria" link at the top of the results page to use the Advanced Search form to update current selection(s) and search fields. You will be able to:
- Make new selections and/or add terms to narrow a search and get fewer results
- Delete selections and/or terms to broaden a search and get more results
- Change any selections and/or terms
How to Get Help from the NCI Cancer Information Service (CIS)
If you do not want to search for trials on your own, you can get help by telephone from an experienced information specialist or use the live, online help available through the NCI Cancer Information Service (CIS). Our information specialists will help you perform a search while talking to you, or they will take information about your needs, perform the search for you after you talk, and send you the results.
To get help from a specialist, call CIS at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday - Friday. The CIS specialist will ask about your specific situation and provide information relevant to your needs.
Live, online help is available through the CIS LiveHelp instant messaging service Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern time.