Boy on bed while mum and nurse talk

Clinical trials

Many children and young people with cancer are treated on clinical trials. A clinical trial is a medical research study involving people and there are many different types of clinical trial which are essential to developing new methods to prevent, detect and treat cancer.

Clinical trials are a core part of the way care is delivered for children with cancer, and are often international because of the small numbers involved. Treatment follows specifically designed protocols or, in a small number of cases where there is no clinical trial, a national UK guideline.

We are still learning the best ways to treat childhood cancer and clinical trials allow us to test new treatments and ways of controlling symptoms, or to investigate new ways of preventing or diagnosing cancer. It is largely because of clinical trials that such outstanding progress has been made in the treatment of children's cancer over the last few decades.

Your child's doctor will be aware of all of the clinical trials available and whether your child is eligible to join one. If your child joins a trial, they will receive their treatment at their designated hospital as normal.

What are the different types of research?

What are the different phases of trials?

Should my child take part in a trial?

Who runs the trials?

The majority of clinical trials for childhood cancer in the UK are coordinated by a specialist Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Birmingham. The UK has an early phase trials paediatric network via the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre Network (ECMC). Early phase trials may not be opened in all main hospitals so your child may need to travel to access specific trials.

What if my child cannot join a clinical trial?

Sometimes, clinical trials are not available for your child's tumour. This may be because a recent trial has just finished, or because the tumour is very rare. In these cases, you can expect your doctors and nurses to offer treatment which is agreed to be the most appropriate, using guidelines which have been prepared by experts across the country. CCLG is an important organisation which helps to produce these guidelines.