Researchers are continually refining current treatments or discovering new medicines to treat cancer and other diseases.
A clinical trial is the term used to describe a scientific research study, which looks at different aspects of patient care, with the aim of improving the outcome compared to current practice.
If early work suggests that a new treatment might be more effective than the standard treatment, doctors will need to compare the new treatment, with the best available standard treatment.
The clinical trial may look at using new drugs or combinations of currently used drugs to treat a particular illness. Alternatively, the trial may look at refined surgical techniques, medical devices or physical therapies. Clinical trials are the only way to improve the treatments for cancer and giving patients with cancer a better quality of life.
Clinical trials can be divided into the following types:
- Trials designed to detect cancer, especially in the early stages
- Trials designed to prevent cancer occurring
- Trials designed to evaluate new treatments for patients with cancer
- Trials to prevent new-cancers developing in patients who already have cancer
- Quality of life studies, to improve the comfort and quality of life for patients living with cancer
See our cancer information pages for more information on cancer treatments.