Types of Clinical Trials

Treatment Trials

Treatment trials test new ways to treat disease, which might involve:

  • A new drug
  • A new type of surgery or radiation
  • A new combination of treatments
  • New methods such as gene therapy
  • Supplements
  • CAM (complimentary and alternative methods)
  • Sometimes extra tissue samples are taken for additional laboratory studies
  • Questionnaires and surveys 

Example: A study compares a new drug against the standard drugs. It looks to see if the new drug treats a type of cancer better and with fewer side effects.

Prevention Trials

Prevention trials test new methods, such as medicines, vitamins or minerals that may lower the risk of a disease. These trials

  • Look for the best way to prevent cancer in people who have never had cancer
  • Look for ways to prevent cancer from coming back
  • Test ways to prevent a new type of cancer in people who have already had cancer

Example: A study uses a drug to see if it prevents a certain cancer.

Screening Trials

Screening trials test the best way to detect a disease in its early stages.

Example: A study does one MRI scan of the whole body to find cancers in children instead of doing several CT scans and x-rays.

Epidemiologic or Observational Research

Epidemiologic or observational research looks at the link between risk factors and disease. Others look at the effect of treatments for the disease.

Example: A study looks at the effects of medicines on decision-making in patients with cancer.

Correlative Research

Correlative research uses blood and tissue samples to look at disease risk or how well a treatment is working.

Quality of Life Research

Quality of life research looks at ways to improve comfort and quality of life for patients.

Example: A study compares the quality of life of patients who had a bone marrow transplant with healthy people of the same age, sex, and schooling.