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Clinical trials often involve complex medical concepts and procedures, which may be described using technical language or medical jargon that is difficult to understand. It is important for patients to understand the purpose and process of clinical trials before deciding whether to participate. We have compiled a list of common questions and we are happy to answer any further queries. Patients should also discuss any concerns they may have with their doctor.

Trusted Resource: Cancer and Clinical Trials Fact sheet

  • Why are clinical trials important? 

    Clinical trials have led to successful cancer treatments that help people live longer. They help doctors determine if new treatments are safe and effective and if they work better than current treatments. Trials also help researchers find new ways to prevent and detect cancer, as well as improve the quality of life for people during and after treatment. By taking part in a clinical trial, you contribute to our understanding of cancer and help improve cancer care for future patients. Clinical trials are essential for advancing cancer research and increasing the treatment options available.

  • Are Clinical Trials Safe?

    Before a drug is used in a clinical trial, it undergoes thorough testing to ensure it is safe for use. However, there may still be a risk of unexpected or serious side effects. If you decie to participate in a trial, you will be given a consent form that explains the possible side effects. Your doctor will also discuss any other risks with you. Your trial doctor and nurse will closely monitor your progress throughout the trial. If the new treatment is not as effective as the standard medical treatment, you will be switched back to the standard treatment. In Ireland, every clinical trial must receive approval from a recognised ethics committee and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), which has the authority to conduct inspects of a trial at any time to ensure it is being carried out correctly and with patient safety in mind.

  • Is it possible that on a trial I might receive worse than the standard of care?

    It is generally not the case that participating in a clinical trial will result in a patient receiving worse care than they would receive outside of the trial. Clinical trials are designed to test the safety and effectiveness of new treatments, and participants are carefully monitored to ensure their safety and well-being. However, it’s important to understand that participating in a clinical trial carries some risks, as there is always the possibility that the treatment being tested may not be effective, or that it may cause side effects that are not yet known.

  • Will I be paid for participating in a clinical trial? 

    Some clinical trials may offer compensation to participants for their time and travel expenses.

  • How are clinical trial participants monitored? 

    Clinical trial participants are typically monitored closely by the research team, who will collect data on their health and any side effects they experience.

  • How long do clinical trials last? 

    The length of a clinical trial can vary widely, from a few weeks to several years. Each trial is different and the number of patients taking part and the length of time you would be on a trial depends on what was being tested

  • What is informed consent?

    Informed consent is when you agree to be a part of a clinical trial after being told about key aspects of the trial, what it will involve for you and what are the risks. You will sign a consent form only after you have had a chance to review all the information and have all your questions answered.

  • Who can participate in a cancer trial? 

    Eligibility for participation in a cancer trial is determined by a set of inclusion and exclusion criteria set by the research team. These criteria vary from trial to trial and may include factors such as age, gender, medical history, and the type and stage of cancer being treated. Inclusion and exclusion criteria are needed to allow the safe running of a trial and to minimise side effects as well as ensuring the drug being tested has its best chance at succeeding.

  • What is the purpose of a clinical trial? 

    The purpose of a clinical trial is to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a new treatment, medication, or medical device.

Other Trusted Resources

There is plenty of information on clinical trials available from other trusted resources and we are also happy to answer any questions patients might have.

It is crucial for patients to consult reliable medical professionals and trusted sources when seeking information about clinical trials. There is a lot of misinformation, inaccuracies, or outdated information available online, which can misguide patients in making informed decisions about their treatment options. Below is a list of reliable sources of further information for patients.

Click the logos below to visit these trusted resources.

Irish Cancer Society logo
Cancer Research logo
HSE Logo