Clinical trials are research studies that patients can voluntarily participate in. These studies test the safety and effectiveness of new treatments to find better ways to diagnose and treat cancer.

Cancer clinical trials can have different objectives, such as testing new:

  • Drugs, medical procedures, or combinations of treatments
  • Methods for preventing cancer
  • Procedures to screen for cancer early
  • Ways to improve comfort and quality of life

Should you participate in a clinical trial?

Potential Benefits

Potential Risks

  • Access to new treatments
  • Contributing to live-saving cancer research
  • A more active role in your own healthcare
  • Close monitoring from some of the best cancer doctors
  • May not get to choose what treatment you receive
  • Some patient care costs may not be covered
  • Therapies under study are not always better than the standard care
  • New treatments may have unknown side effects or risks

Most cancer drugs go through three to four trial phases:

Phase I

Evaluates the safety
of the new drug or

Phase II

Tests the new drug or
procedure on a specific cancer type

Phase III

The new drug or
procedure is compared to current treatments

Phase IV

Additional testing after initial approval to study long-term effects or effectiveness in other
cancer types

Clinical trials used to only be available at major medical centers, but are now widely accessible in community care settings.

Maryland Oncology Hematology participates in clinical trials through US Oncology Research, which has played a role in more than 70 FDA-approved cancer therapies, about one-third of all cancer therapies approved by the FDA to date.