What are clinical trials?
Clinical trials are medical studies that involve people.
Clinical trials for sarcoma cancer can look at
- the risks and causes of sarcoma
- new tests or scans to diagnose sarcoma
- new drugs or combinations of drugs to treat sarcoma, new ways of giving treatment and new types of treatment
- new drugs or complementary therapies to controlling the symptoms or side effects of treatment
New treatments have to be thoroughly tested. A new drug is investigated first in the laboratory. If it looks like a promising treatment for cancer, it is carefully studied in people.
All medicinal products are authorised and monitored in the European Union. See this useful infographic from the European Commission illustrating the life of a pill from clinical trial to use by patients.
The phases of clinical trials
Clinical trials are defined in three phases.
These trials test the safety of a treatment or drug. They are done to find out:
- The safe dose range
- What the side effects are
- How the body copes with the drug
- If the treatment shrinks the cancer
These trials test how cancer responds to which treatment. They aim to:
- See if the treatment works well enough to test in a phase 3 trial
- Find out which type of cancer the treatment works for
- Learn more about the side effects and how to manage them
- Learn more about the best dose to use
Sometimes a phase 2 trial will compare a new treatment with another treatment already in use, or with a dummy drug called a placebo.
These trials compare new treatments with the best currently available treatment, often called the standard treatment. These trials may compare:
- A new treatment with the standard treatment
- Different doses or ways of giving a standard treatment
- A new way of giving radiotherapy with the standard way
Will I benefit from being involved in a clinical trial?
If you are entered onto a trial, you may have access to the latest treatments on offer. However, not everyone taking part in a clinical trial will receive the new treatment.
Phase 1 and phase 2 trials are not normally expected to offer any direct benefit to patients taking part in them. Although, this does occasionally happen, patients should not expect it to be the case. It is important to remember that everyone taking part in clinical trials is helping to improve treatments for patients in the future.
How can I get involved in a clinical trial?
Your doctor or clinical nurse specialist can give you information on opportunities for you to take part in a clinical trial.
Each clinical trial will have eligibility criteria that you will have to meet in order to take part in it. If a trial looks suitable for you, your doctor will contact a doctor in the trial team to ask if you can take part. This is called a medical referral. Generally, having a medical referral is the only way you can join a trial.
If you see information about a trial and you would like to be considered for it, talk to your doctor. They should tell you whether you are eligible and can make the medical referral to the trial team. The people running the trial will not be able to sign you up to the trial without your doctor’s input.
What clinical trials for sarcoma are currently open?
Find out about open trials currently recruiting sarcoma patients in the UK. The links below will take you to the Cancer Research UK website. If you find an outdated or broken link, please let us know.
A trial looking at having imatinib for 3 or 5 years for gastrointestinal stromal tumour (SSG XXII)
This trial is for people with gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST) who have had surgery and taken imatinib for 3 years.
A trial looking at temozolomide for rhabdomyosarcoma
This trial is looking to see if adding the drug temozolomide to irinotecan and vincristine will help people who have rhabdomyosarcoma that did not respond to treatment or has come back. It will also learn more about the side effects of this drug.
A trial of IMRT to treat bone and soft tissue sarcoma (IMRiS)
IMRT is a type of radiotherapy called intensity modulated radiotherapy, doctors want to see if it is a useful treatment for sarcoma and reduces side effects.
A study to increase the reliability and accuracy of MRI scanning in cancer (QuIBs)
A study researchers want to test new MRI imaging and new ways to analyse the images which are being developed in Manchester.
A study to find why cancer treatment stops working (MAGENTA)
This study is trying to find out why some cancers become resistant to treatment.
A study looking at blood levels of chemotherapy drugs in people with Ewing's sarcoma (PK 2013 01)
This study is looking at what happens to chemotherapy drugs in the body during treatment for Ewing’s sarcoma.
A trial of cabozantinib after chemotherapy for sarcoma of the womb that has spread or can’t be removed with an operation (HGUS study)
This trial is looking at a drug called cabozantinib to treat sarcomas of the womb (uterine sarcomas).
A trial looking at masitinib and imatinib for gastrointestinal stromal tumours
This trial is comparing masitinib with imatinib as the first drug treatment for gastrointestinal stromal tumours that can't be removed or have spread.
A study using MRI scans to measure how well chemotherapy is working
This study is looking at a new type of MRI scan to measure how well cancer is responding to chemotherapy.
A trial of masitinib and sunitinib for gastrointestinal stromal tumours that have got worse despite having imatinib (Please note: this trial is currently on hold)
This trial is comparing 2 drugs called masitinib and sunitinib for a rare type of soft tissue sarcoma called gastrointestinal stromal tumour or GIST.
A study to understand more about soft tissue sarcoma [CURRENTLY ON HOLD as of August 2017]
This study is looking at samples of confirmed and possible (suspected) soft tissue sarcomas to try to understand more about how they develop.
A trial of high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) for bone cancer in the lower part of the spine
This trial is looking at a treatment called high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) for cancer that starts in the lower part of the spine.
A trial looking at chemotherapy for Ewing’s sarcoma (rEECur)
This trial is looking at 4 different types of chemotherapy to treat Ewing’s sarcoma that didn’t respond to treatment or has come back afterwards.
A trial looking at treatment for Ewing's sarcoma family of tumours (Euro Ewing 2012)
This trial is looking at treatment for the Ewing’s sarcoma family of tumours.
A study looking at a different type of MRI scan to help plan treatment for retroperitoneal sarcoma (PIRS)
This study is looking at a type of MRI scan called functional MRI. Researchers want to see if it can give more information than scans used at the moment for planning radiotherapy or surgery to treat a soft tissue sarcoma affecting the soft tissues behind the organs in your tummy (retroperitoneal sarcoma)