The purpose of clinical trials for brain tumour patients (adults or children) is to gain a better understanding of these tumours and improve diagnosis and treatment. Some trials also seek to control symptoms more effectively and improve quality of life. By their definition, clinical trials are experimental, and while the hope is that they will be beneficial, there is no guarantee.
What is a clinical trial?
A clinical trial is an experiment that involves patients in a new way of managing a condition. It aims to find out if the new way works, if it's safe, what the best way of giving it is and, vitally, to establish whether the new approach is better than the old one.
Developing a new treatment
There are up to 5 phases to developing a new treatment, each of which can take some time. As a result, it can take 10-15 years or more for a treatment to go from initial design to becoming standard treatment in the clinic.
How do I find a suitable clinical trial?
Every trial has a set of entry criteria that you must fit to be able to take part in the trial. The best way to find a trial is to speak to your clinician about trials that may be suitable for you.
You can also search for a clinical trial matching your criteria on our Take part in a clinical trial page. Or our Information and Support Team can search them for you. You can contact them on 0808 800 0004 or email@example.com or via LiveChat.
If you are looking for clinical trials for children, please get in touch with our Children and Families Team, who are here to help. The team can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or via our Information and Support Line on 0808 800 0004.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of taking part in a clinical trial?
- The new treatment might be better
- If the treatment is an improvement, you may be one of the first patients to benefit from it
- Satisfaction from knowing that you're contributing to advancement of science
- You're more closely observed for changes in your overall health - so these may be picked up and dealt with more quickly.
- They can be inconvenient, time consuming and costly - as they may require additional trips to hospital, or treatment centres in other parts of the country or even abroad. It may affect your insurance - seek advice before you take part
- It might be that the experimental treatment isn't better, or even not as good as, approved therapies which are already available
- Unexpected side-effects - the researchers will monitor you closely whilst you're in the trial and make every effort to keep these to a minimum
- You might not be receiving the new treatment.
How long do I stay on the trial?
The trial will go on until one of the following:
- You decide to withdraw - it's your right to leave the trial at any time, without having to give a reason
- The trial comes to an end
- The treatment is clearly failing or there are safety concerns
- Your doctors believe it's in your best interest to take you off the trial.
How can I get onto a trial if it's not offered by my hospital?
This may not be easy. It can mean travelling and staying near the site of the clinical trial. Sometimes a trial is geared to taking patients from other regions. The best thing is to discuss your wishes with your health team to see if particular arrangements can be made.
Page last reviewed: 05/2018
Next review date: 05/2021