Searching for Clinical Trials

Once patients have all the important information about the cancer, they can begin a search for relevant clinical trials. Patients should print out and save clinical trial summaries, including the protocol, eligibility, and locations for trials in which they are interested. This information should be shared with the oncology provider, and will also help the patient or caregivers if they decide to contact the individuals conducting the trial directly.

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All publicly or privately funded clinical trials evaluating investigational new drugs conducted within the United States or funded by the United States are required to register with (, as established by the FDA Modernization Act of 1997.2 Additional trials can be registered if the sponsor or investigators submit their study to the website voluntarily. Details about a study protocol, such as which drugs are being tested, enrollment criteria, geographic locations of the trial, and the status of the trial (ie, whether the study is currently enrolling participants, whether the study has already concluded).

Multiple organizations, including patient advocacy organizations, foundations, cancer centers, and pharmaceutical companies also have websites with clinical trial search engines.3 In addition to, sites with simple search engines include:

  • CenterWatch (
  • Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups (
  • Jason Carter Clinical Trials Program (
  • (
  • Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Clinical Trial Finder (
  • National Cancer Institute (
  • National Brain Tumor Society Clinical Trial Finder (
  • My Clinical Trial Locator (
  • Colorectal Cancer Alliance Clinical Trial Finder (

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Some organizations offer web-based match services, in which the search engines link clinical trials to the patient based on information provided by the patient. Some services will send alerts when a new trial is open for enrollment. Some examples of these types of websites include:

  • EmergingMed Navigator (
  • (
  • Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer (SPOHNC) Clinical Trial Navigation Service (
  • Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Clinical Trial Finder (
  • AACR Clinical Trials Finder (
  • Cancer Research Institute Clinical Trial Finder (
  • PatientsLikeMe (

Free match services in which a representative searches for clinical trials on behalf of the patient based on patient-provided information are also available. Some examples include:

  • Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP) (
  • Lazarex Cancer Foundation (
  • The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Clinical Trial Support Center (CTSC) (
  • (

Enrolling in a Clinical Trial

Once a patient finds appropriate clinical trials for which he or she may be eligible, the patient can speak with his or her oncology provider about the study or contact an expert directly involved with the study, such as the clinical/research coordinator (who is usually involved in patient recruitment) or a clinical investigator.

Most clinical trials provide patients with investigational medications, procedures, or tests at no cost, although sometimes patients incur fees if medications within an investigational regimen include a drug that has already received approval.4 In addition, health insurance providers are now required to pay for any routine health costs that patients may incur while participating in a clinical trial (including health-related costs that are considered outside of the study’s purview). Health insurance firms are not allowed to drop or limit insurance coverage because a patient is enrolled in a clinical trial.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on November 12, 2018.


  1. National Cancer Institute. Steps to find a clinical trial. Updated June 23, 2016. Accessed September 12, 2018.
  2. background. Updated January 2018. Accessed September 12, 2018.
  3. Cancer.Net. Finding a clinical trial. Updated September 2017. Accessed September 12, 2018.
  4. American Cancer Society. How do I find a clinical trial that’s right for me? Updated December 12, 2017. Accessed September 12, 2018.