Improving cancer care through research
Doctors at UW Health continuously look for new ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer. Since 1979, we’ve been conducting clinical trials. These studies help us decide if new treatments are as good as or better than those we currently use. More than 250 clinical trials are offered through the UW Carbone Cancer Center.
By taking part in a clinical trial, you can:
Gain access to new treatments before they’re available to others
Help us learn more about cancer and cancer treatments
Contribute to and improve cancer care for future patients
About clinical trials
What is a clinical trial?
Clinical trials are research studies involving human subjects. The studies help us learn if a promising new treatment or procedure works and is safe for a specific type of cancer. Decisions about taking part in trials are strictly up to you. Participating in a clinical trial is completely voluntary and you can stop participating at any time, for any reason.
Clinical trials take place in phases:
These trials usually involve no more than 50 people. They help us determine the best way to give a new medicine and the best dose. We are one of a select few places in the country able to offer phase 1 trials as part of your treatment.
Typically, up to 100 people take part in phase 2 trials. These trials focus on the treatment’s effectiveness.
New treatments that appear to be at least as effective as current treatments move on to phase 3 trials. These trials involve a much larger number of people from across the country. Participants receive either the standard cancer treatment or the new treatment.
Who may take part in a clinical trial?
Clinical trials are available for people with all different types and stages of cancer. In addition, clinical trials are also available for people to help us try to reduce the risk of cancer in a person. For each trial, there are eligibility criteria that participants must meet. Whether you can take part may depend on your age, for example, or results of certain lab tests. Researchers take great care to match you to trials that are right for you.
What costs are involved?
In many cases, the costs of drugs being studied in clinical trials are provided at no cost to you. However, there might be other expenses. We suggest talking with your doctor before contacting your health plan. If a doctor determines you qualify for a trial, a clinical research coordinator can provide more information and assist with your insurance provider.
What to expect
Understanding the clinical trial process
If you're interested in taking part in a clinical trial at UW Health, these are the steps involved:
Contact the UW Carbone Cancer Center.
You can reach our referral line at (608) 262-5223. A nurse will match you with clinical trials that may be right for you. You can also learn more about our current clinical trials through Studyfinder.
Talk with one of our cancer doctors.
The first visit could be done over the telephone, via a video visit or in person in our clinic. If we identify a study that you qualify for, we invite you to meet with members of the research team, including the doctor in charge. They will explain the goals of the trial, the treatment involved and the potential benefits for you. They will also answer your questions.
Learn about the risks.
Clinical trials must follow strict federal rules and regulations to protect the safety of trial participants. We make every effort to keep you safe during clinical trials. However, there are risks to clinical trials, including extra tests, procedures, and unexpected side effects. Our team will explain the potential risks and benefits to you. We make sure you are fully informed before you make decisions about participating.
Receive your treatment.
If you decide to enroll in the trial, you will receive treatment. However, you may not know if it’s the current standard of care or the new treatment. Our team will provide any instructions and follow your health closely with checkups and follow-up care.
If you decide to withdraw from the study, you're free to do so at any time. Clinical trials are always optional and you will still receive the best care from UW no matter what you choose.
Working with you today, helping tomorrow’s cancer patients
Doctors, nurses and research coordinators will be involved in your care. Social workers and other health care providers may be part of your care team as well.
Patient and support services
Learn more about clinical trials
These resources can help you learn more about clinical trials: