Thinking about cancer or dealing with cancer risk can be scary or overwhelming, but we believe that receiving information and resources is comforting, empowering, and lifesaving.
Every research study enrolling patients should provide an outline of who may participate in the study. This is known as eligibility. Eligibility is further categorized by a set of requirements known as inclusion criteria and exclusion criteria. All studies in our Research Study Search Tool list basic eligibility. Listed below are some of the most common factors that may affect your eligibility to participate in research. If you are unsure about your eligibility for a study, don’t be shy about reaching out to the study contact. An important part of their role in the study is to help people learn if they are eligible.
The following factors may affect your eligibility for a particular study. Often this information about your cancer risk or diagnosis is located in your medical records. This is why it is helpful to have your medical records on hand before you look for a research study.
Treatment studies are sometimes open only to people with a particular type or subtype of cancer. The information about your tumor type and subtype is available in your medical records in a section known as the pathology report. Some studies require tissue samples for participation. You may need to order your tissue samples from the hospital that performed your surgery. Some studies require you to have an additional biopsy. Check the study listing or call the contact person to learn about the tissue sample requirements for the study.
Treatment studies sometimes exclude patients who have already had a certain number of treatments, or a certain type of treatment. If you have been newly diagnosed with cancer, or have recently experienced a recurrence, it may be helpful to search clinical trials before starting treatment if possible. If you are unsure or cannot remember which treatments you have received, this information is usually located within your medical records.
Our Research Study Search Tool includes studies for people who have had genetic testing, and people who have not. If you have had genetic testing, it will be helpful to have a copy of your results when you search for clinical trials.
Diabetes, liver, kidney disease and other medical decisions besides cancer may affect your eligibility to enroll in a research study. Procedures, such as risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy may make you eligible or ineligible for certain clinical trials.
If you have exhausted all treatment options for advanced cancer, you may want to participate in research to gain access to a new or experimental treatment but find that you are ineligible for a clinical trial. Some pharmaceutical companies may allow expanded access to a new drug that is not yet approved by the FDA. To apply for expanded access to an agent, you should contact the company that makes the agent. You will need your oncologist to fill out paperwork and the approval process may take several weeks.