ON THIS PAGE: You will learn more about clinical trials, which are the main way that new medical approaches are tested to see how well they work. To see other pages, use the menu.
What are clinical trials?
Doctors and scientists are always looking for better ways to care for patients with NSCLC. To make scientific advances, doctors create research studies involving volunteers, called clinical trials. In fact, every drug that is now approved by the FDA was tested in clinical trials. Doctors generally do clinical research in distinct phases that have different goals. Learn more about the phases of clinical trials .
Many clinical trials focus on new treatments. Researchers want to learn if a new treatment is safe, effective, and possibly better than the treatment doctors use now. These studies evaluate new drugs and methods of treatment, new approaches to existing treatments, and new prevention methods. Patients who participate in clinical can be some of the first to get a treatment before it is available to the public. However, there is no guarantee that the new treatment will be safe, effective, or better than what doctors use now.
Some clinical trials study new ways to relieve symptoms and side effects during treatment. Others study ways to manage the late effects that may happen a long time after treatment. Talk with your doctor about clinical trials for symptoms and side effects. There are also clinical trials studying ways to prevent cancer.
Deciding to join a clinical trial
Patients decide to participate in clinical trials for many reasons. For some patients, a clinical trial is the best treatment option available. Because standard treatments are not perfect, patients are willing to face the added uncertainty of a clinical trial in the hope of a better result. Other patients volunteer for clinical trials because they know that these studies are the only way to make progress in treating NSCLC. Even if they do not benefit directly from the clinical trial, their participation may benefit future patients with NSCLC.
Sometimes people have concerns that, in a clinical trial, they may receive no treatment by being given a placebo or a “sugar pill.” However, placebos are usually combined with standard treatment in most cancer clinical trials. When a placebo is used in a study, it is done with the full knowledge of the participants. Find out more about placebos in cancer clinical trials. 
Patient safety and informed consent
To join a clinical trial, patients must participate in a process known as informed consent. During informed consent, the doctor will list all of the patient’s options so that the person understands how the new treatment differs from the standard treatment. The doctor must also explain all of the risks of the new treatment, which may or may not be different from the risks of standard treatment. Finally, the doctor must detail what will be required of each patient in order to participate in the clinical trial, including the number of doctor visits, tests, and the schedule of treatment.
Patients who participate in a clinical trial may stop participating at any time for any personal or medical reason. This may include that the new treatment is not working or there are serious side effects. Clinical trials are also closely monitored by experts who watch for any problems with each study. It is important that patients participating in a clinical trial talk with their doctor and researchers about who will be providing their treatment and care during the clinical trial, after the clinical trial ends, and/or if the patient chooses to leave the clinical trial before it ends.
Finding a clinical trial
Research through clinical trials is ongoing for all types of cancer. For specific topics being studied for NSCLC, learn more in the Latest Research  section.
Cancer.Net offers a lot of information about cancer clinical trials in other areas of the website, including a complete section on clinical trials  and places to search for clinical trials for a specific type of cancer .
In addition, this website offers free access to a video-based educational program  about cancer clinical trials, located outside of this guide.
The next section in this guide is Latest Research . It explains areas of scientific research currently going on for this type of cancer. Or, use the menu to choose another section to continue reading this guide.