What is a clinical trial? 

A clinical trial is a carefully designed research study looking at the effects of a procedure or a treatment.

It can be carried out in the following areas:

  • Screening: to find ways of detecting cancer at an earlier stage
  • Diagnosing cancer: looking at new tests or scans that detect cancer in a better way
  • Treatments:
      • treatments with new drugs or new combinations of drugs
      • other types of treatment such as radiotherapy or surgery
      • new ways of giving treatment
  • Controlling symptoms or side effects: reducing these by using new drugs or complementary therapies
  • Genetics: to help learn more about the role genes play in cancer


Clinical trials aim to find out if a new treatment or procedure:

  • Is safe
  • Has side effects
  • Works better than the treatment that is currently used
  • Helps you feel better


Below is a short film made by Cancer Research UK on clinical trials.

Cancer Research UK has produced 4 short films on ‘My experience of taking part in a clinical trial’ in the links below

  • Amy and Poppy - a mother talking about her daughter who was 3 when she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma
  • Nilesh – he had renal cancer
  • Ash – he had testicular cancer
  • Jean and John – Jean had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma

The video below describes the experience of a particular trial in lymphoma.

Further information about clinical trials:

The research team
Current (open) clinical trials
Contact the clinical trials team