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Advantages and disadvantages of clinical trials

If you do find a trial that is suitable, you will need to think about the possible advantages and disadvantages of taking part. This will help you to decide if the trial is right for you. You can also leave a clinical trial at any time, without it affecting your care.

Possible advantages

  • You may have access to new treatments that work.
  • There may be fewer side effects compared to the standard treatment.
  • You may have more regular tests, which some people find reassuring.
  • You may help to improve future cancer treatments and medical knowledge.

Possible disadvantages

  • The new treatment may not be any better than your current treatment.
  • There is a risk that the new treatment may not work for you.
  • There may be more side effects compared to the standard treatment.
  • The trial may not be available at a location that is convenient to you.
  • You may have to go to hospital more often for tests and treatment, which can be inconvenient.
  • You may not like the uncertainty of not knowing whether you are taking an active new drug, the standard treatment, or a placebo.

It’s important to remember that if you do take part in a trial, you may not get the new treatment, but might get the standard treatment or placebo instead. Finding out as much as possible about a trial will help you to decide if it is suitable for you.


Published April 2016

Review date April 2018

Information Standard