National Cancer Institute
U.S. National Institutes of Health |

NCI Home
Cancer Topics
Clinical Trials
Cancer Statistics
Research & Funding
About NCI
How to Find a Cancer Treatment Trial: A 10-Step Guide
    Posted: 03/21/2005


Before You Start:
Steps 1-3

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Searching for a Trial:
Steps 4-6

Step 4

Step 5

Step 6

After Finding a Trial:
Steps 7-10

Step 7

Step 8

Step 9

Step 10

Diagnosis Checklist

Who Produced This Guide?

Page Options
Print This Page
Print This Document
View Entire Document
E-Mail This Document
View/Print PDF
Quick Links
Director's Corner

Dictionary of Cancer Terms

NCI Drug Dictionary

Funding Opportunities

NCI Publications

Advisory Boards and Groups

Science Serving People

NCI Highlights
High Dose Chemotherapy Prolongs Survival for Leukemia

Prostate Cancer Study Shows No Benefit for Selenium, Vitamin E

Past Highlights
Related Pages
Search for Clinical Trials
NCI's PDQ® registry of cancer clinical trials.

Educational Materials About Clinical Trials
What clinical trials are, how they work, and other educational materials for patients and professionals.
Related Information
View/Print a PDF of this guide

Need help finding a trial?
  Call 1-800-4-CANCER

Searching for a Trial: Step 5

Search Other Resources

While PDQ and have the most complete listing of cancer trials, you might want to check a few other resources, as well. Why? Because

  • some may include a few trials not found in the federal databases
  • you may prefer their way of assisting you in your search

The other resources discussed in this section are

Note: Links to external Web sites are provided for convenience and informational purposes only. The inclusion of these links does not constitute an endorsement by the National Cancer Institute. See the full Disclaimer of Endorsement and Liability policy for the NCI Web site.


TrialCheck is operated and maintained by the Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups (CCCG). The CCCG is made up of groups of doctors and other health professionals that carry out many of the large cancer clinical trials in the United States funded by the National Cancer Institute.

TrialCheck maintains comprehensive data on thousands of cancer clinical trials and contains a copyrighted cancer clinical trials screening questionnaire that will identify trials appropriate for a patient’s individual medical condition.

How to search TrialCheck

[Back to Top]

Third-Party Clinical Trial Web Sites

There are a number of clinical trial Web sites that are not operated by funders, sponsors, or the organizations carrying out the trials. Some of these Web sites are operated by private companies - these may be funded through fees that industry sponsors pay to have their trials listed or according to how many participants the Web site refers to them.

Keep the following points in mind:

  • Most third-party clinical trials Web sites list or link to trials in PDQ or
  • They may include a few more trials than you'll find in the federal databases, but they may also include fewer.
  • Unlike the federal databases, these sites may not regularly update their content or links.
  • Unlike the federal databases, these sites might require you to register to search for trials or to obtain contact information about the trials that interest you.

    Links to several third-party Web sites are listed below. Clicking on the links will help you learn more about the sites and what they have to offer in addition to their clinical trial listings.

[Back to Top]

Industry-Sponsored Cancer Trials

Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies sponsor many of the cancer clinical trials being carried out in the United States. Some of these trials are listed in the federal databases (PDQ and, but many are not.

Federal law requires that U.S. researchers submit to all phase II, III, and IV trials of therapies for serious or life-threatening illnesses (including cancer) conducted as part of the approval process overseen by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, this law is difficult to enforce and for business reasons, some drug companies have preferred to keep details about their clinical trials from the public.

How to search for industry-sponsored trials
  • If you are aware of an experimental cancer treatment and know the company that manufactures it, search the Internet to find the Web site of the company. Find the company's customer service telephone number. When you call, ask to speak to the company's clinical trials department. Tell them you are looking for a trial that you might be eligible to join.

[Back to Top]

Cancer Advocacy Groups

Cancer advocacy groups work on behalf of people diagnosed with cancer and their loved ones. They provide education, support, financial assistance, and advocacy to help patients and families who are dealing with cancer. These organizations recognize that clinical trials are important to the cancer treatment process and, thus, work to educate and empower people to find information and access to treatment.

Because they work hard to know about the latest research advances in cancer treatment, these groups will sometimes have information about certain key government-sponsored trials, as well as some potentially significant trials sponsored by pharmaceutical companies or cancer care centers.

How to search for trials through a cancer advocacy group
  • Contact the advocacy group for the type of cancer you are interested in and ask what they can tell you about ongoing clinical trials. The nonprofit Marti Nelson Cancer Foundation maintains a partial list of such groups on its Web site.

[Back to Top]

Fee-Based Private Search Services

A number of private services will, for a fee, locate clinical trials for you. While having someone search for you may ease your stress, it is important to keep in mind that several of the resources mentioned earlier in this guide provide elements of this kind of service for free. Also, be sure to ask the following questions:

  • What list or lists of clinical trials does the service search? Are those lists likely to provide you with an unbiased and largely complete source of options?
  • Does the service receive any money for directing patients to certain trials or for including certain trials in their list?

< Previous Section  |  Next Section >

A Service of the National Cancer Institute
Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health