Participating In A Clinical Trial

Volunteering for a clinical trial may allow a patient to benefit from a promising new treatment or receive care from leading cancer specialists.  In addition, participants have the satisfaction of contributing to the progress of cancer research.

While the advantages of enrolling in a trial can be significant, it’s vital that you make an informed decision. That means speaking with your doctor, sharing information with your family, and understanding the benefits and risks of any study you’re considering. 

Clinical trials are categorized by phase, which indicates how far an experimental drug or treatment has progressed:

  • Phase-I Trials – Researchers test a new drug or treatment in a small group of people (20-80) for the first time to evaluate its safety, determine a safe dosage range, and identify side effects. The dosage may start low and then increase.
  • Phase-II Trials – The study drug or treatment is given to a larger group of people (100-300) to see if it is effective and to further evaluate its safety.
  • Phase-III Trials – The study drug or treatment is given to large groups of people (1,000-3,000) to confirm its effectiveness, monitor side effects, compare it to commonly used treatments, and collect information that will allow the drug or treatment to be used safely.

A number of important clinical trials past and ongoing have resulted in significant progress in cancer research.  These include:

  1. Chemotherapeutic drugs that interfere with basic cellular processes;
  2. Molecule-targeting drugs, such as Gleevec, which target aberrant proteins or genes that make cells cancerous;
  3. Monoclonal antibodies or other biological agents that target aberrant proteins or genes that make cells cancerous; and
  4. Treatments that stimulate the body’s immune system to attack cancers.

If you’re thinking of volunteering, or if you’re exploring the possibility for a loved one, below are some helpful resources to get you started:

A service of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), this website is a registry and database of publicly and privately supported clinical studies conducted around the world.  You’ll also find in-depth information about how clinical trials are conducted, a glossary of terms, and links to valuable resources across the Web.

National Cancer Institute

Here, you’ll find a database of clinical trials sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, a division of the NIH, along with a wealth of educational information.


Founded in 1994, CenterWatch is a trusted source for clinical trial information for both professionals and patients.  In addition to educational information, the site offers an extensive database of studies that are enrolling patients.


This free registry connects volunteers with researchers who are searching for appropriate participants for their clinical trials and other kinds of research studies, such as surveys.  A collaborative project led by the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical & Translational Research, ResearchMatch involves a wide network of medical institutions and nonprofit partners.

Richard T. Silver, MD Myeloproliferative Neoplasms Center at Weill Cornell Medicine

Building a world-class center for MPN research and patient care is the cornerstone of CR&T’s research strategy.  Here, you’ll learn about open clinical trials at the Silver MPN Center, which is based in New York City.

Clinical cancer research is at the heart of everything we do at the CR&T.  We hope this gives you a sense of your options and a first step to determining whether or not participating in a clinical trial is for you.