Your questions answered

Every family in Ireland has been touched by cancer. Thankfully, we have made huge progress in finding it and treating it. But there’s more to be done.

Many questions remain unanswered. Maybe you can help find the answers by taking part in a cancer trial.

Here are some answers to questions you may have about cancer trials.

If you have questions that are not answered here please contact the Irish Cancer Society’s Cancer Nurseline freefone 1 800 200 700 is a very valuable source of information as is its website

What are cancer trials?

Cancer trials look at new ways to prevent,  and and treat cancer. They can also help improve the quality of life for people with cancer. Most trials involve testing new drugs which show promise or new combinations of existing drugs. Cancer trials are highly regulated and follow a long and careful research process to make sure they are as safe as possible..

How would I benefit?

On a cancer trial you may receive access to a treatment or procedure not available to other patients. You would be closely monitored by your doctor, clinical research nurse, experienced researchers and the trial team. You would also be helping to  find answers to cancer for future generations.

Are there drawbacks?

The treatment you would get during a trial may be different to what you would receive if you were not on a trial. There might be some side effects, some of which are not known. You might have to visit your hospital more often for things such as blood tests or scans.

How long do trials last?

Trials can take place over many years and involve thousands of patients. The length of time you would be on a trial would depend on what was being tested.

When would I know the results?

When your treatment is complete you would continue to be monitored, sometimes over a number of years. This is so that the trial team can build up a reliable picture of the effectiveness of the treatment. When the trial is complete, the  final results would be published in a medical journal and available from your trial team. If new information became available during the trial you would be kept informed.

Could I withdraw from a trial?

Of course, taking part in a cancer trial is voluntary; you can withdraw at any stage. Your choice would not affect your relationship with your doctor.

Would taking part affect the care I receive?

On a trial you are likely to receive more care. You’ll be monitored, and see your doctor and support team, more often. You’ll have more opportunities to ask about your treatment, progress and general well-being.

Why are cancer trials important?

New and more effective approaches to cancer cannot be developed without cancer trials. All cancer treatments used today were once tested through a cancer trial. Cancer trials enable access to new treatments and help us increase our knowledge on the best way to deliver these treatments. By taking part in a cancer trial you would be helping to test new ways to detect and treat cancer.

Can I take part in a cancer trial?

Cancer trials are not open for all types of cancer and are not always available in all parts of the country. Each trial has strict guidelines on who can take part. For example, a trial might be for a certain age group, a particular type or stage of cancer or for patients with specific previous treatments. Your doctor can advise you of any cancer trials available for your disease type and assess whether taking part in a trial is suitable for you and in your best interests.

How can I find out more?

Just Ask Your Doctor or healthcare professional if there is a cancer trial currently available that would suit you. You can also find a list of open cancer trials here. and you can call the Irish Cancer Society's Cancer Nurseline on Freephone 1800 200 700.

Download Q and A brochure 2017