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 a 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 use 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.
The CancerHelp UK webpages have clear, easy to understand information explaining the different phases of clinical trials and how they are designed.