Is a clinical trial right for my child?

Your specialist may ask if you would like your child to take part in a clinical trial. Being part of research can improve care for other children and young people who face cancer in the future. Many treatments that are available today have been developed and improved through such research. But if you don’t want to take part, it's always your choice.

What is a clinical trial?

A clinical trial is a form of research. There are many different types of clinical trial. Some may be trying to find a better treatment for a particular type of cancer, while others may aim to improve quality of life during treatment. There are different phases of clinical trials:

  • Phase one and two clinical trials explore new types of treatment and the best way to give them. These usually involve a small number of patients.
  • Phase three clinical trials are about understanding the benefits of the new treatment over an existing one. These trials involve a larger number of patients.

How do we take part?

If you want your child to take part in a clinical trial, you (or your child depending on their age), will need to give something called ‘informed consent’. This means that the trial has been explained to you by a medical professional who has told you what will be involved and you have agreed that your child will take part. You should be given at least 24 hours to think about your decision.

You can always ask if you can talk to a member of the research team to learn more about the study, and get a better understanding of the potential risks and benefits.

Is it safe?

All clinical trials have to be approved by a panel of experts before they can go ahead. They only approve ones that appear to keep your child safe and treat them fairly.

You’ll only be asked to take part in research if doctors think it’s the right option for your child. It’s entirely up to you (and them) if you do it. Make sure you ask enough questions to get the answers you need to decide.

If you take part in a trial, your information and data have to be kept secure.

What if I say no or change my mind?

You don’t have to say yes, and your medical team will still give your child the best possible care if you decide not to go ahead. You can also choose to withdraw from a clinical trial at any time.