What is a clinical trial?

Clinical trials are medical studies involving people. They are a way of testing treatments to ensure they are safe and effective. Clinical trials for sarcoma can look at:

  • New types of treatment
  • New ways of giving treatment, drugs or combinations of drugs to treat sarcoma
  • New tests or scans to diagnose sarcoma
  • New drugs or complementary therapies to control the symptoms or side effects of treatment
  • The risks and causes of sarcoma, often by looking at genetic factors

​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.

Why might I consider joining a trial?

The decision to take part in a trial is individual to each person and their circumstances. Trials may not be for everybody, or you simply may not find a trial that is right for you at this moment in time.  Common reasons people might decide to join trials are:   

  • To access a new or alternative treatment
  • To improve treatment for future patients
  • To give something back to the sarcoma community

“Not only are you helping future treatments for sarcoma patients, but you also feel some sort of achievement in yourself, that you are contributing.”
Liz, clinical trials patient 

Types of trials and treatments

Clinical trials are categorised under different phases. This is to do with how the trial is designed and what level of testing a treatment has had.

  • Phase 1 trials look at how safe a treatment is. These trials may recruit from a wide group of people including healthy people and people with different types of cancer.
  • Phase 2 trials look at how well a treatment works in a specific group of people. It may look at side-effects, and the safest and most effective dosages.
  • Phase 3 trials compare new treatments with current practice.
  • Phase 4 trials look at treatments that have been approved for use and may look at which specific groups the treatment works best in. They may also look at longer term side-effects.

Download our clinical trials glossary for more information.

Phase 1 and 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.

Not all research for sarcoma requires directly taking part in a clinical trial. You can also get involved and help to improve treatment for sarcoma by completing surveys about your treatment, symptoms and quality of life.

If you have any questions about taking part in research contact our Support Line on 0808 801 0401 or email supportline@sarcoma.org.uk.