Clinical trials

When your child's treatment plan is being put together, your specialist may ask if you would like them to take part in a clinical trial. The aim of these studies is to improve care in the future. Many treatments that are available today have been developed and improved through such research. 

What is a clinical trial?

A clinical trial is a medical research study involving people. There are many different types of clinical trial. Some may be trying to find a better treatment for a particular type of cancer, while others may aim to improve quality of life during treatment. There are different phases of clinical trials:
  • Phase I and II trials are used to investigate a new treatment and determine the effective dosage. These usually involve a small number of patients.
  • Phase III trials aim to confirm the benefits of this new treatment over the standard treatment. These trials involve a larger number of patients.

All medical research studies have to be approved before they can go ahead, which means the safety and ethical aspects have been considered by a panel of experts.

Informed consent

If you wish your child to take part in a clinical trial, you (or your child depending on their age), will need to give informed consent. This means that the trial has been explained to you, someone has told you what will be involved and you have agreed that your child will take part. You should be given at least 24 hours to think about your decision, if you need to do so.

If you like, ask if you can talk to a member of the research team so you can learn more about the study. It will be a matter of understanding the potential risks and benefits.

You don’t have to say yes, and your medical team will still give your child the best possible care if you decide not to go ahead. You can also choose to withdraw from a clinical trial at any time.

More information

CCLG have produced an in-depth guide About clinical trials to help you understand more and a free booklet designed to answer any questions you may have.

Where next?

Updated November 2017, next review due 2019.