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What is a clinical trial?

Clinical trials are studies to investigate new treatments, tests or ways of caring for patients.

The aim of a clinical trial could be to:

  • increase survival rates for a life-threatening illness or condition
  • improve the quality of life of people with a long-term illness
  • mitigate the unpleasant side effects of treatments like chemotherapy
  • prevent illness and improve public health

In the context of cancer, this could mean investigating:

  • new ways of detecting cancer early
  • a completely new treatment eg a new drug
  • giving existing treatments in a new combination
  • giving an existing treatment in a new way
  • better ways of controlling cancer symptoms or the side effects of treatment
  • how genes affect cancer
  • how to prevent cancer

Some trials involve healthy people. Others involve patients who take part in a trial as part of their treatment. All trials are controlled by strict legal and ethical rules and are carefully monitored.

Because the CCTC links the hospital with the University of Cambridge, CRUK and pharmaceutical companies, we are able to offer many of our patients with cancer the opportunity to take part in trials and receive novel treatments.