Clinical trials

At any one time, The Royal Marsden is involved in around 750 clinical trials, of which about 550 are open to recruitment.

The Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) for cancer at The Royal Marsden and The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) undertakes pioneering research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. More information about trials can be found on their website.

What are clinical trials and what do they look at?

These medical research studies involve people and look at:

  • risks and causes – how genetics, lifestyle and other factors can increase people’s risk of cancer
  • preventing cancer – using drugs, vitamins or diet to reduce risk
  • screening – for people at higher than average risk, or for the general population
  • diagnosing cancer: new tests or scans
  • treatments – new drugs or combinations, new types and methods of giving treatment
  • controlling symptoms or side effects – new drugs or complementary therapies.

What are their objectives?

They aim to find out if a new treatment or procedure:

  • is safe or has side effects
  • works better than currently used treatment
  • helps people feel better
  • has been thoroughly tested – for example, a new drug is investigated first in the laboratory. If it looks promising, it is carefully studied in people.

Are there different stages?

There are four phases of trials:

  • Phase I trials look at whether a trial treatment is safe or has any harmful effects – as well as the best dose to use
  • Phase II trials consider how well a treatment works – only those that get through these two phases go into Phase III testing
  • Phase III trials test a new treatment against the existing standard treatment – if it gives better results, it may become the new standard treatment
  • Phase IV trials are carried out after a drug has been licensed – information on side effects, safety and long-term risks and benefits of a drug is collected.

How useful are the trials?

Not all clinical trials result in new, better treatment. Some find that the trialled treatment doesn’t work or has worse side effects than existing treatments. However, this information is still useful for researchers, doctors and, ultimately, patients.

How can I take part in a clinical trial?

If you would like to take part in a clinical trial please speak to your GP or consultant.

How can I found out about open trials?

You can search the following websites to find open trials (including ones at The Royal Marsden) relevant to you:

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