New medical treatments and drugs go through rigorous testing before they are approved for general use. In the final stages of this approval process, suitable patients are invited to take part in Clinical trials of these treatments and drugs.
Helen Rollason Cancer Charity supports Clinical trials to develop new cancer drugs and treatments at North Middlesex University Hospital in East London. Patients are able to access treatments which may be licensed but are not yet available on the NHS, are awaiting NICE approval or are a novel new agent.
Since 2000, the charity has supported more than 3,000 cancer patients in Essex and London, resulting in effective new treatments that are now available to the general public.
What is a clinical trial?
A clinical trial is a process to look at the most effective way of treating cancer.
This can be done by:
- Investigating benefits of current cancer treatment
- Examining drawbacks of current cancer treatment
- Considering the best way of delivering cancer treatments
It can also:
- Compare a new treatment with the best-known treatments available
- Investigate specific side-effects of treatments
- Trial new treatment options and novel drugs
- Allow patients to access new treatments prior to NICE approval
How are patients recruited onto a clinical trial?
The methods that patients are recruited to a clinical trial vary. They can be:
- Referred by GPs
- Current patients identified through a multi-disiplinary team (MDT) looking at a specific cancer
- Referred via an individual clinician
Am I eligible to participate in a research trial?
The criteria for clinical trials vary but part of a research nurse’s role is to check the suitability of individuals for clinical trials.
What can I expect when I take part in a clinical trial?
The exact detail of each drug trial will differ, but generally patients should expect:
- Early access to cutting-edge treatments not always available on the NHS
- Treatment options and choices increased
- Specialist clinical referral
- Novel drug treatments
- Increased monitoring of symptoms with scans and blood tests
- Direct access to a named nurse
- 24-hour medical advice
- To be able to participate in the future development of cancer treatments