Get the facts on clinical cancer trials

Cancer trials look for new ways to prevent, find, and better treat cases of the disease. Ahead of International Clinical Trials Day taking place on May 20, find out more facts about what they entail
Get the facts on clinical cancer trials

Workers in a cancer research laboratory. Picture:

MARKING arking International Clinical Trials Day on Friday, May 20, Cancer Trials Ireland will host a free webinar on clinical trials for members of the public.

The virtual event to promote public understanding of clinical trials is taking place as part of the Just Ask campaign. This initiative encourages patients to enquire of their doctors if there is a clinical trial suitable for them.

The webinar will feature a presentation from clinical trial expert, Professor Seamus O’Reilly, (consultant medical oncologist and Vice Clinical Lead Cancer Trials Ireland) on how trials work and how to access them, while previous trial participants will share their experiences on what to expect.

The event will take place from 2-3pm on May 20 and will be live streamed online. To register, email

Unlocking Answers to Cancer

There isn’t a family in Ireland that has not been touched by cancer. In fact, about 25,000 people are diagnosed with invasive cancer1 here each year. In the past 20 years, almost 31,000 (30,770) people have taken part in nearly 800 (786) cancer clinical trials.

For Professor Ray McDermott, Consultant Medical Oncologist and Clinical Lead, Cancer Trials Ireland, patients taking part in cancer clinical trials receive even more care and monitoring for their disease:

“Cancer trials look for new ways to prevent, find and better treat cancer,” he said.

“They can provide early access to drugs not otherwise available. They can help to improve the quality of life of people with cancer. They can save lives.

“With our Just Ask campaign, we are encouraging patients to ask their medical team if there is a clinical trial that may be suitable for, or relevant, to them.

“Patients should be reassured that, in taking part in a trial, they will receive even more care than they are currently. They will see their team more often to check up on their progress and well-being.

“Even when the trial is over, patients often continue to be monitored, sometimes for a number of years, which is very reassuring.

“Indeed, research has shown that the increased level of care provided to clinical trial patients, of itself, can contribute to better outcomes. So, there is every reason to consider a clinical trial. It really will help us to unlock the answers to beating cancer.”

Top Five Clinical Trial ‘Myths’ Exposed!

The placebo myth. There is no cancer clinical trial for a new therapy in which patients do not receive treatment. The ‘placebo’ part of a cancer trial ensures that the patient gets the best available cancer treatment, known as ‘standard of care’, against which the trial treatment is compared.

The ‘I’ll be locked in’ myth. Information-sharing is a key part of the recruitment process in any clinical trial with medical teams providing comprehensive literature to patients and answering their questions as best as possible. However, even after signing up, you are not ‘locked in’ for the duration of the trial. You can opt out at any time.

The ‘I don’t have the money’ myth. 

Cancer trials are not the preserve of those with deep wallets. 

Subject to relevant exclusions based on medical history, if there is a clinical trial taking place here that is accepting new participants, then you can apply. There is no cost for treatment or tests. For a full list of clinical trials taking place today in Ireland, visit

The ‘guinea pig’ myth. In Ireland, no new cancer medicines are tested for the first time on people or what are known as ‘first-in-human’ trials. Rather, the cancer trials open here are very often ‘phase 3’ trials that are at a more advanced stage in terms of therapy development.

These trials involve medicines that are well understood, but which are now being delivered in a new way or dosage, or in combination with another therapy.

Furthermore, any trial that opens in Ireland must first be approved by the regulator and by a National Research Ethics Committee to ensure that it meets the highest legal and scientific standards. So, rest assured, the only guinea pigs around here are at the zoo!

The ‘who’ll keep an eye on me?’ myth. You could not be in better hands. Apart from your clinical trial treatment, you will likely have to visit hospital more often for blood tests, scans and other tests.

Your response to the trial therapy will be closely monitored by experienced cancer consultants and the nurse support team both during and after the trial.

If you bump your knee playing with the kids, or get a headache listening to the garage band next door, your team will want to know.

You’ll also have lots of opportunities to ask questions about the status of your condition, your progress and general well-being.

To access the Just Ask information booklet, or for a full list of clinical trials taking place in Ireland, visit Alternatively, telephone the Irish Cancer Society Cancer Nurseline, Freephone 1800 200 700.

The Just Ask campaign is supported by Pfizer, Roche, AbbVie, MSD, Novartis and Bayer.

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