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Who can take part in clinical trials?


Each trial has strict criteria – or guidelines – on who can be involved. These are called “inclusion criteria”. They can include:

  • age
  • the type and stage of your cancer
  • your previous treatment
  • your medical history
  • other medical conditions
  • your general health – for example how well you are feeling or how active you are.

We have provided the main inclusion criteria for each clinical trial listed on our website, but there may be other criteria for taking part. Your consultant will be able to explain whether a trial is suitable for you.

Even if you are suitable to join a trial and have given your consent, screening tests for the study may show up something that means you don't meet the criteria after all. Factors that mean a person isn’t suitable for a trial are called “exclusion criteria”, and are mainly there to make sure the trial is safe for the people taking part. It can be very disappointing and frustrating if the screening tests show that you are not suitable for the trial. You will still be given the best treatment and care available outside the trial. Speak to your consultant or nurse about your treatment options.

There are a number of clinical trials for people with pancreatic cancer. We have an up-to-date list of trials in the UK.

What happens with the results of clinical trials?

Medical researchers have a duty to publish their results. Sharing research findings can show what was learned from the trial, and any improvements it could make to treatment and care. The findings from trials may be published on websites and medical journals. Or they can be presented at meetings and conferences for health professionals.

Everybody taking part in a trial will receive a patient information sheet which usually explains what will happen to the results of a trial. Ask your consultant or nurse how you can find out about the results.

Even if a trial is successful and the treatment works, it can take a long time before it is used in the NHS. If the treatment involves a new drug, it will need to be independently approved. This is done by the following organisations in the UK:

These organisations will look at the results of all the studies involving the treatment, and decide whether it is effective and should be funded on the NHS. 

Find out more

The Cancer Research UK website also has information about individual clinical trials in the UK. To find out about other clinical trials taking place around the world, including who to contact, visit the ClinicalTrials.gov website. 

The Elizabeth Coteman Fund provides grants to people with pancreatic cancer to cover costs where distance can affect a patient’s/family’s decision to take part in a clinical trial. 

Published April 2016

Review date April 2018

Information Standard