Clinical Trials

What is a clinical trial?

Clinical trials are research investigations in which people volunteer to test new treatments, interventions or tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage various diseases or medical conditions. Some investigations look at how people respond to a new intervention* and what side effects might occur. This helps to determine if a new intervention works, if it is safe, and if it is better than the interventions that are already available.

Clinical trials might also compare existing interventions, test new ways to use or combine existing interventions or observe how people respond to other factors that might affect their health (such as dietary changes).

Why do we need clinical trials?

Clinical trials are essential to the development of new interventions. For example, without clinical trials, we cannot properly determine whether new medicines developed in the laboratory or by using animal models are effective or safe, or whether a diagnostic test works properly in a clinical setting. This is because computer simulation and animal testing can only tell us so much about how a new treatment might work and are no substitute for testing in a living human body.

Clinical trials also permit testing and monitoring of the effect of an intervention on a large number of people to ensure that any improvement as a result of the intervention occurs for many people and is not just a random effect for a one person.

Clinical trials can also help to improve health care services by raising standards of treatment. Doctors and hospital staff involved in clinical trials are continually trained to provide best practice patient care. Australian clinical trials are recognised internationally for including very high quality patient care.

All clinical trials in Australia must be reviewed and approved by a Human Research Ethics Committe.

Overview of clinical trials

For an overview of clinical trials please see:

Consumer Health Forum

Cancer Clinical Trials

What are cancer clinical trials?

Cancer clinical trials are research studies for patients who have been diagnosed or are at risk of developing a cancer.  They involve testing new treatments or finding ways to improve existing ones.

Types of cancer clinical trials

Treatment: Determining the most effective treatment for people who have cancer.

Prevention: Preventing a cancer from developing in people who have not previously had cancer.

Early Detection: Ways of finding cancer in patients before they show symptoms.

Diagnostic: Aiming to identify cancer more accurately and at an earlier stage.

Quality of Life: Looking into improving the comfort & quality of life of people who have cancer.

Benefits of participating in cancer clinical trials

Cancer clinical trials help us find out if new treatments are safe and effective, with the aim to improve side effects.

People in clinical trials may have access to new treatments that are not available outside the trial.

People in clinical trials have the additional support of a clinical trial nurse throughout their participation in the trial.

The results of clinical trials today may improve treatment for people who develop cancer in the future.

Who is involved in the administration of cancer clinical trials?

Cancer clinical trials involve the care of a research team made up of doctors, nurses, trial coordinators and scientists. They require support from hospitals and funding bodies.

How to take part in cancer clinical trials

Ask your Doctor or Health Care Provider if you are eligible for a Cancer Trial.

Cost of clinical trials

In most cases, taking part in a trial will not cost the participant more money than not taking part.


All cancer treatments have risks and side effects. There might be increased risk in clinical trials of previously unknown side effects occurring.

Ask a Doctor about the risks and benefits to you and if clinical trials are right for you.

Clinical Trials in our region 

The resident population of the Hunter New England Region represents approximately 8 percent of the population of NSW and covers a total geographical area of over 130,000 square kilometres. 

Here at Calvary Mater Newcastle we have a large number clinical trials run across seven Clinical Trial Units including:

Haematology, Medical Oncology, Melanoma, Palliative Care, Psycho-oncology, Radiation Oncology, and Surgical Oncology; all of which operate within the Clinical Cancer Research Network.

More information

Cancer Institute NSW

Cancer Council NSW

Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry

Clinical Cancer Research Network

Australasian Leukaemia and Lymphoma Group (ALLG) 

Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group


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