Clinical Trials

What is a

clinical trial?

Cancer trials are carried out to try to find new and better treatments for cancer. Trials that are carried out on patients are known as clinical trials.

Many drugs and treatments that have been tested in clinical trials are now in common use and without ongoing clinical trials it would not be possible to add to the current knowledge about effective treatments.

Clinical trials of new treatments rarely stop when specialists agree that it works. There may be better ways of using it, such as giving it in different doses or combining it with other treatments. 

Clinical trials are divided into different stages, called phases. The earliest phase trials look at whether a drug is safe or the side effects it causes. Later phase trials will aim to test whether a new treatment is better than existing treatments 

There are 3 main phases of trials: Phases 1 to 3. Some trials will have an earlier stage 0 and there are some phase 4 trials undertaken after drug has been licensed. 

Phase 0 trials aim to find out if a drug behaves in the way researchers expect it to from laboratory studies.

Phase I trials are usually small and recruit only a few patients. The trial may be open to people with any type of cancer. 

Phase II trials are for people who have the same type of cancer. They aim to find out if the treatment works well enough to test on a larger phase III trial. They also find out for which type of cancer the treatment works. Side effects are looked at, how to manage them and also the best dose. Phase II trials are sometimes randomised. This means that people taking part are put into groups at random 

Phase III trials compare new treatments with standard treatment. Standard treatments are those which are the best currently available.  These trials involve more people and will be conducted in many hospitals and may be multi-national.  Most phase III trials are randomised.

Phase IV trials are done after a drug has been proven to work and has been granted a license. They aim to find out more about side effects and the safety of the drug. They show the long term effects and benefits of the drug and how well it works when used more widely. 

Not all trials look at drugs. Some look at other treatments such as surgery and radiotherapy. Other look at lifestyle and the early intervention of support and the way in which people are cared for. 

What trials are available for mesothelioma?  

Selected trial information can be found in the quarterly Mesothelioma Matters magazine. Click here to sign up to receive a free copy of the magazine.  More comprehensive information can be found via our Clinical trials app, see below.

Clinical trials app

The mesothelioma clinical trials app is a clinical trial finder for mesothelioma trials in the UK.

You can access information about:

  • current trials in the UK
  • what are clinical trials
  • what are the “phases” of trials
  • how to take part in a trial

The app is free to use. You can download it from:

 Search ‘Mesothelioma UK’ or scan the QR code.

Other information about clinical trials 

If you are a patient or carer and would like more information on clinical trials, please get in touch with one of our Clinical Nurse Specialists, call our Freephone Support Line on 0800 169 2409 or email 

If you are a trial coordinator or investigator and would like to include or update existing details of one of the mesothelioma clinical trials listed above, please send information to

Please note that Mesothelioma UK undertakes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided. 

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Clinical trials

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