About participation

Participation in clinical studies is completely voluntary. It is important to keep in mind that subjects may choose to stop treatment at any point during the study.

Both patient volunteers, those who are known to have an illness/disease, and healthy volunteers may be needed depending on the specific study. Healthy volunteers serve as control groups to help develop new knowledge.

Not all studies are made for everyone. One study may fit in better with certain individuals than others. Participation is also based on the Inclusion and Exclusion criteria that serve as guidelines about who can partake.

These criteria consider things such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Type/stage of cancer
  • Current and former medications
  • Medical conditions
  • Any previous clinical study history

Why participate?

Individuals may choose to participate in clinical studies to help advance and further new treatments and/or try out the latest therapies available to them.

Those who tend to want a more active role in his or her own healthcare often find clinical studies are a clever choice.

By choosing to participate in clinical studies, you have the option of not only helping yourself, but helping others affected just like you.

Should you choose to join a study, it is important to consider the risks and benefits.


  • Help others by contributing to medical research
  • Take charge on his/her own health care
  • Have constant access to doctors and other medical professionals who are designated to working specifically with your health
  • Having certain costs, including medical care and tests, covered by sponsor


  • Side effects may be more harmful than expected
  • Treatment may not be more effective than traditional options
  • There is a chance the treatment may not work at all
  • Chance of minor discomfort throughout study
  • Detailed list of risks should be included in informed consent section

Before a volunteer can participate in a clinical study, the researchers need to obtain approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB). In order to become approved, the benefits to study participants must outweigh any risks involved, but as with any treatment, side effects and risks are always present.

How do I get involved?

Often, your doctor will present the idea to you, but you can mention clinical studies as a treatment option as well. If you and your doctor agree that a clinical study is an option for treatment, you will meet with the research doctor that may be at another facility. You could meet with several researchers to decide which study is best for you. An example of things to discuss with the researcher would be where the study would be completed, as they will likely suggest studies closer to your local community.

Costs of a clinical study

Before you decide on whether or not to participate in a clinical study, be sure and ask your doctor or study nurse if there is someone on staff who can help you figure out what the cost will be to you. This person may be the study nurse, a financial counselor, or someone in the finance department.

Hear from clinical study patients

To truly understand what it is like to participate in a clinical study, read what other patients had to say about participating in a clinical study.


National Institute of Health

Cancer Support Community

Clinical Trials.com

MD Anderson Cancer Center