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There are different ways of treating cancer but no one treatment can provide a cure for all patients.

New ways of treating cancer are being developed all the time by cancer doctors and scientists.

If a new treatment has been developed and early studies show that the new treatment may be more effective than the usual or standard treatment a clinical trial will be performed. This will show if the new treatment produces better results than the standard treatment (a controlled clinical trial).

Clinical trials are usually carried out at several hospitals throughout the country or world. The trial treatment will have already been carefully examined and tested in early studies before being offered as part of a controlled clinical trial.

If a patient is entered into a clinical trial the treatment they receive (either the new treatment or the standard treatment) will be decided at random by a computer, not by the doctor looking after the patient. This ensures that the doctor or patient does not unintentionally bias the result of the trial by choosing which treatment is given. This is known as a randomised controlled clinical trial.

The new treatment may or may not prove to be more effective than the standard treatment or it may produce the same effect as the standard treatment but with fewer side effects. Until this type of trial has been conducted it may not be known which is the most effective treatment.

If your doctor would like you to be entered into a clinical trial they must have your permission to do so. You will be given information about the trial, the aim of the trial, why your doctor has recommended that you take part and the type of treatment you will receive. You will be given the opportunity to discuss the trial with your doctor and specialist nurse / radiographer and ask any questions you may have.

You will be asked to sign a form giving your consent to be in the trial.

If you are offered entry into a clinical trial, you can choose whether you wish to take part or not. If you choose not to take part in a trial you will be given the standard treatment.

Choosing not to take part will not affect your future care in any way. If you enter a trial but change your mind, you will be withdrawn from the trial. Again, this will not affect your future care.

As well as assessing new treatments, trials may also collect information about quality of life (how the treatment affects you). If you are entered into a trial you may be asked to fill in questionnaires about how you have been feeling whilst having your treatment.

All trials are scrutinised by a national and / or local Ethics Committee and by The Ipswich Hospital Research Governance Committee to ensure the safety of all people taking part.

For more information about clinical trials, please visit the Macmillan Cancer Support website. You can also learn more about clinical trials on the Cancer Research UK patients’ website.