Questions to Ask About Clinical Trials

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 08/2017

Before deciding whether to participate in a clinical trial, you should know as much as possible about the study. It is important for you to feel comfortable asking questions, and the clinical trial staff should answer them in a way that you can easily understand. All patients participating in a clinical trial will meet with the research team to learn about the study. You will have several chances to ask questions and learn more about the clinical trial before you join. Read more about patient safety in clinical trials.

Prepare for your conversation with the research team so that you can make an informed decision about joining a clinical trial. Take some time before the appointment to think of your questions, and write down or print out your list of questions to bring with you. Bring along a way to keep track of the answers you receive, too. For example, you can also download Cancer.Net’s free mobile app for a list of questions and other interactive tools to manage your care. You may also want to bring a friend or family member to help you record and remember the answers.

General questions about clinical trials

  • What is a clinical trial?

  • Why are you recommending a clinical trial for me?

  • What clinical trials are open to me?

  • Where can I learn more about clinical trials?

Questions about a specific clinical trial

  • What is the purpose of this clinical trial?

  • How does this clinical trial differ from the standard of care?

  • How do you think I will benefit from joining this clinical trial?

  • Why is this specific approach being studied?

  • What are the eligibility criteria to enroll in this study?

  • Am I eligible for this clinical trial? If not, can you recommend other options?

  • Why are you recommending this specific clinical trial for me?

  • What other treatment options are available to me, including the standard treatments and other clinical trials?

  • Who or what organization is sponsoring or funding the clinical trial?

  • Who has reviewed and approved this clinical trial?

  • Does this clinical trial include the use of a placebo? What does this mean?

Logistics

  • Where is the clinical trial taking place (sometimes called the study site)?

  • Is the clinical trial being offered at other sites?

  • How often will I have to go to the study site?

  • How long will the clinical trial last?

  • What are my responsibilities during the clinical trial?

Tests and procedures

  • What kinds of treatments, tests, scans, and other procedures will I have during the clinical trial? How often will they occur?

  • How will these tests and procedures be different from the ones needed for the standard treatments?

  • Will they hurt? If so, for how long? Are there other risks? Is this similar to those needed for standard treatments?

  • What is a tissue sample, and what types are needed for this clinical trial?

  • What will be done with the tissue samples? Do I need to donate these in order to participate in the study?

  • What tests will be done on the tissue sample?

  • What is a biomarker? Will these be tested for in the clinical trial?

Medication and hospital stays

  • Will I be able to take my regular medications during the clinical trial?

  • What medications, procedures, or treatments must I avoid while in the clinical trial?

  • Will I have to be in the hospital during the clinical trial?

Privacy

  • Who will know that I am participating in a clinical trial?

  • Can I talk to other people in this clinical trial?

  • Will I be able to find out the results of the clinical trial? When?

Medical staff

  • Will the study researchers work with my doctor while I am in the clinical trial?

  • Who will be coordinating my overall health care?

  • Who do I contact if I experience side effects or other problems during the clinical trial?

  • Who will provide my medical care after the clinical trial ends?

Risks and benefits

  • What are the possible advantages of participating in this clinical trial?

  • What are the possible risks of participating in this clinical trial?

  • How do the possible risks and benefits of this clinical trial compare with the standard treatments for me? How do they compare with other clinical trials available for me?

  • What are the possible short-term and long-term side effects of both the standard treatments and the new approach being tested in this clinical trial? Who on my health care team will help me manage these?

  • How will this treatment affect my daily life? Will I be able to work, exercise, and perform my usual activities?

  • What happens if my health gets worse during the clinical trial?

Costs

  • What costs are associated with this clinical trial?

  • Which of these costs are covered by the clinical trial?

  • Can you help me find out what costs my insurance will cover?

  • What costs will I be responsible for?

  • How do these costs compare to the costs of the standard treatment options?

  • Who can help me manage the costs related to my cancer care?

Learn more with free videos

PRE-ACT, Preparatory Education About Clinical TrialsYou can watch a free series of educational videos on Cancer.Net. The series is called Preparatory Education About Clinical Trials, or PRE-ACT.

To get a personalized selection of videos, you can answer questions about your own information and preferences. Or you can watch the entire series. You need to create an account to get personalized videos. If you have an account, you can also start and stop watching at any time.

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