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Clinical Trials Guide

What Are Clinical Trials All About?

A Guide for Patients With Cancer

National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute

Research studies conducted with patients are called clinical trials. As a cancer patient, you may take part in a clinical trial. This guide is written for you, your family and friends, to explain what clinical trials are and to help you make a decision about entering a trial.


The time when cancer is diagnosed or when treatment decisions are being made is very difficult. It is often hard to understand or remember complex medical explanations. The information in this guide is meant to supplement what your doctors tell you. It provides answers to questions asked most often about clinical trials. You may wish to write down questions to ask your doctor or nurse. Also, there is a glossary of words that relate to clinical trials and cancer care. This is a quick way to look up terms that you may hear or read. More information on many cancer-related topics is available at no cost in other publications from the National Cancer Institute.

We hope this guide will help to explain how clinical studies are designed and carried out. Of course, there are good treatments and good care for cancer patients whether they take part in clinical trials or receive standard treatments. You may decide not to take part in a trial, and you can still receive good medical care. The decision to enter a clinical trial or not is always up to you.

More information can be found at:

Additional Information:

National Cancer Institute News Center

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