Is participating in a clinical trial in oncology an option for me?

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What are clinical trials?

Cancer drugs currently on the market have been thoroughly evaluated in clinical trials to ensure their safety and efficacy in cancer patients.

All over Quebec, hundreds of cancer clinical trials are currently underway even outside of metropolitan areas.

These trials test:

  • New drug candidates
  • New drug combinations
  • New treatment techniques (radiation therapy or surgery)
  • New patient management approaches (quality of life)

There are strict rules for clinical research.
In Canada, clinical trials are conducted under the supervision of Health Canada and a Research Ethics Review Committee.

Who is concerned?

There are clinical trials for different types and stages of cancer. Clinical trials are a possibility especially if:

  • You’ve been diagnosed with advanced cancer
  • You have cancer and you’re no longer responding to treatment
  • You’re in remission but your cancer could return
  • Your cancer could spread to other parts of your body
  • You’ve been diagnosed with a cancer that is rare, aggressive or difficult to treat


The decision to participate or not is entirely yours. If you decide to take part in a study, you can stop at any time and for any reason.

Once you have received all required information about the trial, make sure to evaluate the pros and cons with your study doctor, your family and/or
close friends

I’m interested but do I qualify?

Clinical trial participants are chosen on the basis of several criteria (e.g. cancer stage, medical history, previous treatments, etc.). You should talk to your doctor about it.

How do I figure out if a clinical trial is appropriate for me?

Talk to your study doctor and the research nurse. Here are questions you could ask them:

  • Given my condition, what are my treatment options?
  • Is participating in a clinical trial an option for me? If so, are there clinical trials appropriate for me that are recruiting?
  • How does the treatment I would receive in the clinical trial differ from the standard treatment?
  • What are the risks, side effects, and potential advantages of my participation in this clinical trial?
  • Concretely, what will the trial require on my behalf compared to the standard treatment (expenses, number and frequency of visits)?
  • Can I continue to see my current doctor?
  • Will there be follow-up treatments after the trial?

Frequently asked questions

The minimum treatment that you will ever receive is the current standard treatment approved for your condition. If there are no standard treatment
for your condition, you may receive only a placebo. You will be informed by your study doctor if receiving a placebo is a possibility in the context of a clinical trial.

You cannot be enrolled in a clinical trial without consenting voluntarily. After having received all the information, you’re the one who decides in
all freedom if you want to participate.

Yes. You can always drop out of a clinical trial at any time, for any reason, without jeopardizing the quality of medical care you will be receiving.

You may need to go to the hospital more often, so you may have extra expenses, such as transportation and parking expenses. Some
clinical trials reimburse these costs. Before the start of the trial, ask your research team if these costs are covered.

Having trouble finding what you need?

Information Specialists from the Canadian Cancer Society can help you: