A clinical trial is a medical research study involving people. Clinical trials research the benefits, risks and efficacy of new treatments. Trials look at many different issues; some seek the best treatment for a particular type of cancer, while others aim to improve quality of life during treatment.
Some examples of study areas:
- Cancer Screening – usually screening people at higher than average risk, or for the general population
- Risk Factors – how factors such as lifestyle and genetics influence the risk of developing cancer
- Diagnosis – the development of new diagnostic procedures, test and scans
- Developing New Treatments and New Drugs or combinations of drugs, such as new chemotherapy drugs
- Developing ways to controlling Symptoms or Side Effects
Types of trials
There are different phases of clinical trials. Phase 1 trials investigate whether a trial treatment is safe or has any harmful effects. Phase 2 trials are used to investigate look at how well a treatment works. Phase 3 trials test a new treatment against the existing standard treatment.
There are also Phase 4 trials - these trials are carried out after a drug has been licensed - they collect information about side effects, safety and the long term risks and benefits of a drug.