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- Taking part in a clinical trial
Taking part in a clinical trial
Your doctor or nurse may suggest you take part in a clinical trial.
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Health professionals and researchers, including doctors, run clinical trials to test new or modified treatments and ways of diagnosing disease to see if they are better than current methods. People are recruited to test the new treatment (e.g. a drug, medical device, surgical method or test) to see whether it works and whether any side effects occur.
You may want to join a clinical trial so that you can have treatments that are not available outside of the study. All trials have rules about who can take part (eligibility criteria) and there may not always be a trial suitable for your specific situation. If you find a trial you’re interested in joining, ask your doctor if you meet the eligibility criteria.
Joining a clinical trial
It is voluntary to join a clinical trial. You shouldn’t feel pressured to take part or rushed into making any decisions that may affect your health or treatment. Take the time you need to decide whether to join – if you are unsure, you can ask for a second opinion from another specialist or talk to your GP. Call Cancer Council 13 11 20 for more information.
Before joining a trial, you need to give informed consent. This means you will be given written information about the key facts of the trial so that you can decide whether to take part.
You will be asked to confirm in writing (usually by signing a consent form) that you have read and understood the purpose, duration, required procedures, risks and possible outcomes of the research, and agree to take part in the trial. You will be asked to give consent again if the study changes or new information becomes available.
You can withdraw from a clinical trial at any time without giving a reason. If you do withdraw, you will still receive the standard treatment that is currently the best option for you.
See Clinical trials and research for more information, including how to get involved in a trial, and some practical issues to consider when deciding whether to take part.
Podcast: Making Treatment Decisions
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Prof Sarah Lewis, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, NSW; Kevin Bloom, Senior Social Worker, Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplant, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; Danielle Curnoe, Consumer; Alana Fitzgibbon, Clinical Nurse Consultant – Gastro-Intestinal Cancers, Cancer Services, Royal Hobart Hospital, TAS; Hall & Wilcox (law firm); Johanna Jordaan, Consumer; Dr Deme Karikios, Medical Oncologist, Nepean Cancer and Wellness Centre, Nepean Hospital, NSW; Melissa Lawrie, Breast Cancer Clinical Nurse, Cancer Services, Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service, QLD; Jacqueline Lesage, Consumer Reviewer, Cancer Voices NSW; McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, VIC; Louise Pellerade, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Andrew Potter, Consumer; Siân Slade, PhD Candidate, Nossal Institute for Global Health and Non-Executive Director (health, disability sectors), VIC; Paula Watt, Clinical Psychologist, WOMEN Centre, WA.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
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