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Rare Cancers Australia

Clinical trials

What are clinical trials?

Clinical trials are conducted in a series of steps which investigate the safety and efficacy of new cancer treatments and new drug combinations. The ultimate aim is to discover what the best standard treatment is, and whether a new treatment is better than existing ones.

Trials do not always focus on drugs, radiotherapy and surgical approaches, but as a rare cancer patient these are probably the ones you will be most likely to participate in.

Why participate in a trial?

Participating in a clinical trial can give you early access to a new type of treatment. Whilst you cannot be sure that the new treatment is better than the current standard of care, often rare cancer patients have fewer options than those with more common cancers.

If existing treatments are not working for you or you have exhausted the standard options, clinical trials may offer a new pathway. There may be benefits to your overall wellness and improvement in life expectancy. You will receive close monitoring during and after the trial and your participation contributes to knowledge and data, which will help others in the future.

Risks of being in a trial

Depending on the phase of the trial, there are risks you should be aware of. Although drugs have been tested rigorously in a laboratory before being trialled in humans, there may be uncertainties around side-effects and efficacy. Risks include the new treatment not being more effective that the standard care, or the trial treatment not working for you.

You may experience unexpected side effects in a trial and you may need to travel to the site where the trial is being conducted. There is a lot of information you need to read and sign before consenting to a trial and you must thoroughly understand all the risks and potential benefits.

Finding clinical trials

It can be difficult finding trials and understanding whether they may be suitable for you. The following sites have clinical trials listed but you should ask your doctor to check the details on each trial including the eligibility and exclusion criteria. These tools may be useful in finding clinical trials in Australia.

Browse our knowledgebase

Need further assistance?

We have a friendly team available to chat about any questions you may have, or just to lend an ear if you’re having a tough time. Feel free to email support@rarecancers.org.au or give us a call.

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Clinical trials are an essential part of the development of new treatments and help to improve the diagnosis, treatment and management of people with cancer.

RCA provides information about clinical trial registries and individual clinical trials with the hope that it assists you to be informed about what clinical trials are available. However, RCA is not responsible for the content or maintenance of these sites or specific clinical trial information. We will endeavor to keep this information up to date but the reader is ultimately responsible to check the accuracy of this information. 

RCA neither recommends nor endorses any clinical trials. Patients are encouraged to complete their own research into any clinical trials and possible effects and impacts to their health as a result of such trials. It is the patient’s responsibility, in consultation with their medical professional, to determine whether they wish to take part in such trials.