Patient Information

What is a clinical trial?

What Are Clinical Trial Phases?

Clinical trials are research studies conducted with patients. They focus on either the prevention or treatment of diseases. Prevention trials recruit healthy people to study agents that have the potential of stopping disease before it ever starts. Treatment trials target people suffering from specific diseases to test the effectiveness of new medications, compare standard treatments with new ones, or test at a combination of medications and other treatments, such as surgery or radiation.

West Virginia University and the West Virginia University Cancer Institute are recognized nationally as clinical trials sites. Our cancer research is particularly focused on the types of cancers most common in West Virginia. Those are lung, breast, prostate, and colon/rectal cancers. We are always interested in recruiting new participants for one of the many clinical trials being offered.

Are clinical trials safe?

Risks and side effects exist with any medical treatment, whether it is a standard treatment or a clinical trial. Our trials have many safeguards to protect the health and safety of our patients.

  • Treatments are carefully studied in laboratories before they are used with patients.
  • Any research involving patients must be approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB is made up of doctors, administrators, ethics specialists, and members of the general public. The IRB reviews every clinical trial to protect the rights and welfare of the patients.
  • Patients considering a clinical trial receive verbal and written information about the trial, including information about any known risks or side effects.
  • Patients must sign a consent form before entering a trial.
  • Patients have the right to stop participating in a trial at any time.
  • Patients are carefully monitored by exams, blood tests, x-rays, and phone calls. This means that any changes in a patient's condition are promptly detected and examined.
  • Data on a patient's condition are constantly checked by the clinical trial sponsor.
  • Patients are informed of new information that emerges during a clinical trial, such as when data accumulate about adverse effects or new, more convenient dosing schedules.

Who participates?

Do any of these statements describe you?

  • I am looking for the most current treatments for my condition.
  • I have tried all of the current suggested treatments for my condition.
  • I want to help find cancer answers.
  • I want to help myself and others.

If one or more of these statements sounds like you -- and you meet all of the eligibility requirements -- then you could be the type of person who participates in a clinical trial at WVU.

Why Should All Women Consider Participating in Clinical Trials?

How can you participate?

If you are considering participating in a clinical trial, ask your physician or healthcare professional these questions:

  • Is there a clinical trial available for treating my condition?
  • What other treatment options exist?
  • What are the benefits of a trial?
  • What are the risks of a trial?
  • What costs are involved?
  • What medications or treatments will be used?
  • How often is treatment given during the trial?
  • How long will the trial last?
  • Does my physician support the clinical trial?
  • How will the results of the clinical trial be made public?
  • Are there extra visits or a lot of additional traveling?

Need further information?

If you would like to know more about cancer clinical trials, please visit the NCI website.

Additionally, you may search for any clinical trial at