There may be clinical trials of new and emerging cancer treatments available that you could join.

What are clinical trials?

Clinical trials are part of the research to find new and better ways to treat cancer.

These trials look at:

  • new drugs or combinations of drugs
  • new ways of giving radiation treatment
  • new types of treatment

It is important that people of all ages and backgrounds take part in clinical trials so that what is learned will help cancer patients now and in the future.

Talking about options with a nurse
Talking about options with a nurse
Talking about options with a nurse

Taking part in a clinical trial

If you are asked to take part in a clinical trial, make sure that you fully understand the reasons for the trial and what it means for your treatment

You will also be given an information sheet and consent form to read. The consent form will explain:

  • why the trial is being done
  • the exact plan for each step in the trial
  • what side effects you may have
  • how the clinical trial may affect your daily life

If you decide to take part in the clinical trial, you will be asked to sign the consent form.

Even if you sign the consent form, you can still change your mind and stop at any time and it will not affect your ongoing medical care.

Going through cancer treatment can be overwhelming, and you may have many questions.

Here are some questions you may wish to ask your treatment team to help you understand what taking part in the clinical trial will mean for you. You may want to have a support person with you when you visit.

Here is a list of questions you may wish to ask:

  • Why is the clinical trial being done?
  • How will it help me?
  • What kinds of tests and treatments are part of the trial?
  • How am I protected?
  • How could the trial change what I do every day?
  • What will happen to my cancer with or without this treatment?
  • What other treatments could I get if I don’t take part in the clinical trial?
  • What are possible short-and long-term side effects for my family/whānau and me to think about?
  • How do the risks and side effects of the standard treatment compare with the treatment being studied?
  • How long will the trial last?
  • Will I have to stay in the hospital during the clinical trial?
  • If I have to stay in the hospital, how often and for how long?
  • How will I be checked after the clinical trial is finished?
  • How long do I have to make up my mind about joining this trial?
  • Who do I contact with questions regarding the trial?
  • Are there any additional costs involved in the treatment?
  • Will I be reimbursed for my travel and accommodation costs if I need to be at the hospital for extra visits?
  • How will I find out the results of the trial?
  • Can I talk to the other patients involved in the trial?
  • What do I do if I want to leave the trial after it has begun?

If there are answers you do not understand, it is okay to say, for example:

  • would you explain that again, please?
  • I am not sure what you mean by that?
  • would you draw a picture or write it down, please?

Do I have to take part in a clinical trial?

No. Taking part in a clinical trial is up to you.

Look at all of your treatment options with the help of your family/whānau and treatment team to decide if a clinical trial is the best way to treat your cancer.

Before any treatment begins, make sure that you have discussed and understood your treatment team's advice. You may ask for a second opinion if you want one.

Clinical trials and your rights

In Aotearoa New Zealand, a clinical trial must be approved by an ethics committee. 

The ethics committee’s job is to review all clinical trials and make sure they are run safely and fairly. The ethics committee can stop a clinical trial at any stage if they have concerns about the people's welfare in the trial.

Under the Privacy Law of Aotearoa New Zealand, your privacy is protected. Information collected and recorded as part of a clinical trial will have a special code instead of your name.

Need someone to talk to?
8:30 am to 5:00 pm Monday to Friday
0800 226 237 Information nurse

We know that going through cancer is tough and can raise many questions. You are not alone.

We have health professionals to answer your questions and provide the support you need. Get in touch

Last updated: December 22, 2022