About Clinical Trials

Clinical trials test the safety and effectiveness of new cancer drugs and treatments. They help us find better ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat cancer. Nearly all cancer treatments used today began with clinical trials.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration must approve new treatments before they can be widely used. Clinical trials are part of the approval process for new drugs and treatments.

At any given time, Huntsman Cancer Institute has an average of 200 clinical trials open to cancer patients. Through clinical trials, we hope to find new ways to improve treatments and the quality of life for people with cancer.

Researchers design cancer clinical trials to test new ways to:

  • Treat cancer
  • Find and diagnose cancer
  • Prevent cancer
  • Manage symptoms of cancer and side effects from treatments

Learn more about types of cancer clinical trials from the National Cancer Institute.

View our clinical trials brochure.

Benefits & Risks

Clinical trials are experiments, so they may have risks as well as benefits. Risks depend on the treatment being studied and the health of people who participate.

Benefits: Patients in clinical trials may receive treatments not yet available to everyone. But there is no guarantee that clinical trial treatments will help your medical condition. Taking part in the search for new and better cancer treatments can be personally satisfying. You will be helping others.

Risks: Clinical trial treatments can cause side effects and other health risks. The risks depend on the type of treatment and your health. You always make the final decision about taking part, and not until after you understand all the potential risks and benefits. You have the right to stop participating in a clinical trial at any time and for any reason.

How to Participate

Patient participants are essential to clinical trials. Ask your doctor if a clinical trial is right for you. Each clinical trial accepts patients with a specific type and stage of cancer. In general, you must meet these conditions:

  • Doctors have diagnosed and checked the stage of your cancer.
  • A doctor has reviewed your general health, and your health meets study requirements.
  • We have answered all your questions about the clinical trial.
  • You understand the possible benefits and risks of participating in a clinical trial.
  • You have signed and submitted your informed consent form.

Before you decide to take part, doctors and clinical trial coordinators tell you all the known risks. The medical team closely watches the health of every patient who participates.

Contact the Clinical Trials Office

For more information about clinical trials, contact the Cancer Learning Center:


Research Studies

Research studies look at ways to improve the health and well-being of people affected by cancer, including patients, caregivers, and loved ones. Instead of testing drugs or treatments like in a clinical trial, research studies explore the different factors that affect health and lead to disease.

These factors include individual behavior choices, the environment, genetics, access to care, education, and more. Understanding these factors can help us provide the best information to people about cancer risk and prevention, improve health outcomes, and support a high quality of life for people diagnosed with cancer and their loved ones.

Study Topics

At Huntsman Cancer Institute, our population scientists study a wide range of topics to help us better understand how to support and improve outcomes for people affected by cancer:

  • Genetics and inherited cancers
  • Patterns and causes of cancer in a group of people
  • Quality of life of cancer survivors
  • Experience of caregivers

Some studies are for people who have been diagnosed with cancer. Others are open to people who have never had cancer.

Population & Family-Based Research Studies

These research studies look at tissue or blood samples, usually from families or large groups of people, to find genetic changes that are associated with cancer. Researchers also use other tools (like surveys) to gather data from cancer patients, their caregivers, and the general population.

People who participate in these studies may or may not have cancer.

The goal of these studies is to help understand how cancer happens and different steps people can take to lower their cancer risk and symptoms and improve their quality-of-life.

Learn more about current research studies that may interest you by finding a research study (below).