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Celebrating International Clinical Trials Day

by Deborah Rodbard | Analysis

20 May 2013

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We’ve written many times about clinical trials on this blog. Trials tell us which treatments work, and their results boost the progress we’re making in helping to  improve cancer survival.

We’re writing about them again now because today is International Clinical Trials Day. As we discussed last year, this commemorates the day back in the 18th century when a doctor called James Lind began trials to try and find out what caused scurvy.

Clinical trials have developed a great deal since then – here’s a short video about taking part in a clinical trial:

There are various activities taking place this week to celebrate International Clinical Trials Day.

For example, Cancer Research UK’s research nurses will be arranging events at hospitals across the UK. Many clinical trials of new treatments would simply not be able to run without these specialist nurses, who play a vital role in making sure cancer patients have access to promising cancer treatments. Cancer Research UK funds more than 200 research nurses around the country.

As well as this, The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has launched a campaign called It’s OK to Ask, encouraging patients to ask questions that will help to keep research at the top of the NHS agenda.

But we also wanted to use today to highlight a unique resource for UK cancer patients – our clinical trials database.

World leaders

The UK leads the world in the proportion of cancer patients joining trials.

Around 17 per cent now take part – that’s a greater proportion than in the USA or any other European country. And last year, around 42,000 cancer patients joined publicly funded clinical trials in the UK. These trials are helping to find out which treatments work, how best to use them, and what the side effects are.

To help cancer patients find trials that are suitable for them, our clinical trials database lists a large number of cancer trials and studies recruiting in the UK and funded by a wide range of organisations (not just trials supported by Cancer Research UK).

We started the database more than a decade ago. At first we only included trials that were actually recruiting patients.

But people told us they wanted information on closed trials too – so they knew what research was in the pipeline.  And they wanted to know about trial results – since 2009 we have added more than 400 summaries of results.

Overall, there are now more than 1,500 studies listed on the site, including more than 500 that are recruiting patients.

Where does the info come from?

Our team of specialist nurses write all our trial information in plain English that is easy to understand. Then it’s reviewed and approved by the team or organisation running the trial before we add it to the website.

If you find a trial that interests you, you can print off the information and take it to discuss with your doctor.

Collaborative effort

We work with a wide range of organisations, including many pharmaceutical companies. By working directly with trial teams, we are able to produce short, accurate and easily understandable information that tells the public what a trial set out to find out – and what it actually did find out.

You can also read about the planning and organisation of trials and find out what taking part would mean for you.

At Cancer Research UK we’re committed to providing information for the public about cancer trials and their results. We are dependent on trial teams, including clinical researchers, academics and pharmaceutical companies working with us in order to do this.

For more information about our clinical trials and the impact they have, you may want to look at our briefsheet.

In consultation with patient groups, we’ve also produced a clinical trials leaflet explaining the different types of trials, benefits and drawbacks, and how to go about finding a trial suitable for you.

Cancer trials are so important. As well as providing this information, we’ve been campaigning to improve the way they’re regulated in the UK and Europe, to make sure they can be set up as quickly and easily as possible, so as many patients as possible can benefit. You can read more about this work in previous posts on this blog..