Questions to Ask About Clinical Trials

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 09/2019

Before deciding to participate in a clinical trial, you will meet with the clinical trial's research team to learn about the study. You can ask the staff any questions you have. They should answer your questions in a way that helps you easily understand. This will help you make an informed decision about joining the clinical trial.

Take some time before the appointment to think of your questions. Write them down or print them out to bring with you. Also bring a way to keep track of the answers you receive. For example, you can download Cancer.Net’s free mobile app for a list of questions and other interactive tools to manage your care. You can also bring a friend or family member to help you record the answers.

General questions about clinical trials for cancer

  • 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?

  • What if I change my mind after I agree to be in a clinical trial?

Questions about a specific clinical trial

  • What is the purpose of this clinical trial?

  • How does this clinical trial differ from the regular treatment or standard 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?


  • Where is the clinical trial taking place? (Sometimes this is 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? Are these different from the regular treatments?

Tests and procedures

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

  • 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 during the clinical trial?

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


  • 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? How?

Medical staff

  • Will the clinical trial's research team work with my doctor while I am in the clinical trial?

  • Who will be coordinating my general health care?

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

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

  • If I have to change doctors, how will my new doctor know about what happened during the clinical trial?

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?


Learn more with free videos

PRE-ACT, Preparatory Education About Clinical Trials

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

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

Related Resources

Questions to Ask Your Health Care Team

Making Decisions About Cancer Treatment

Finding a Clinical Trial

Patient Safety in Clinical Trials

The Importance of Clinical Trials in Treating People with Cancer

When Joining a Cancer Clinical Trial Is Your Last Treatment Option

More Information

The Center for Information & Study on Clinical Research Participation: Should I Participate? (PDF)

National Cancer Institute: Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Treatment Clinical Trials and Biospecimen and Biorepository Basics