Why are cancer clinical trials important?

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

By Mayo Clinic staff

Cancer clinical trials help physician-scientists at Mayo Clinic find new and better ways to control and treat cancer. They are also an important option for many people facing a difficult cancer diagnosis. Joining a trial may provide experimental, cutting-edge treatment options.

"We have over 300 cancer clinical trials every year that are testing new drugs and bringing treatments to patients," says Cheryl Willman, M.D., executive director of Mayo Clinic Cancer Programs, and director of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. "Cancer clinical trials are essential to advancing our knowledge in cancer care."

During a clinical trial, participants receive experimental treatments and researchers determine if those treatments are safe and effective. A clinical trial might study new cancer drugs or new combinations of drugs, new medical procedures, new surgical techniques or devices, new ways to use existing treatments, and even lifestyle or behavior changes.

For a new cancer treatment to become standard, it usually goes through two or three phases of a clinical trial. The early phases of cancer clinical trials are designed to study the safety of the new treatment. Later phases determine the effectiveness of the new treatment while continuing to study its safety.

For an explanation of how a clinical trial moves an experimental treatment from an idea to patient care, watch "The Clinical Trial Journey" video:

Learn more

Read FAQs about clinical trials and learn how clinical trials are helping patients with cancer.

Find a clinical trial and learn more about participating in clinical trials and research at Mayo Clinic.

For information about participating in cancer clinical trials at Mayo Clinic, contact:

Mayo Clinic Cancer Center
Clinical Trials Referral Office

To have someone from the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center Clinical Trials Referral Office contact you, complete this contact form.