Clinical trials for colorectal cancer test new treatment options including drug therapy, surgery, radiation, and combination procedures. There are also clinical trials that test prevention and new ways to stop cancer from recurring or reduce side effects of cancer treatment. Before new drugs reach patients enrolled in clinical trials, they go through a multi-phased rigorous laboratory process.

Clinical trials provide information on new, innovative ways to tackle the disease. Without trials, CRC therapies would not evolve to become better and more reliable. All current therapies used today are a result of clinical trials!

Patients often participate in clinical trials because they hope a new treatment will benefit them or they want to contribute to the future of medicine and help find cures. Most clinical trials require a patient to qualify or be eligible to participate, based on specific medical criteria.

Clinical trial participation is voluntary. Before joining any trial, you must sign an informed consent. This is a detailed document with all of the trial information. You can withdraw from the trial at any time, if you choose to do so.

Phases of Clinical Trials

  • Phase I: answers the questions: how much, how safe, how often?
  • Phase II: answers the question: does the new treatment do any good?
  • Phase III: answers the question: what’s better, a new treatment or the standard treatment?

Note: Phase I trials are often not in the large databases. Look on the websites of cancer centers near you to see what they are offering, or call their oncology department.

What Are Questions to Ask When Considering a Clinical Trial?

  • Am I eligible for a clinical trial? If yes, do you feel that would be a good choice for me?
  • How do the possible risks and benefits of the new treatment compare with my other treatment options?
  • Are there extra procedures or visits in the trial compared with standard care?
  • Who will pay for what in the trial?
  • What is the standard treatment for someone in my situation? What do you recommend?
  • What will my treatment schedule look like?
  • What are the short- and long-term side effects of the treatment you are recommending?
  • How will my health be monitored during treatment?

What are some potential risks of clinical trials?

  • New treatments aren’t always better than the standard treatment available. In some situations, they may be less effective.
  • There may be unexpected side effects, or side effects may be worse than the standard treatment.
  • Patients in randomized clinical trials can’t choose their treatment, nor can their doctors.
  • Some costs of clinical trials may not be covered. Check with your doctors and insurance company to see what is covered.
  • If the trial requires you to travel far, additional challenges and logistical issues could come up.

How can I find a clinical trial right for me?

If you’re interested in a clinical trial, talk to your treatment team. They may know of a clinical trial in your area, or state, or can help you find a trial that’s right for you. You can also use a clinical trial finder like the ones listed below.

Clinical trial finders

  • lists all phase III and most phase II trials. The FDA requires them to be listed on this website.
  • EmergingMed lists available trials for colorectal cancer. You can also call 866-278-0392.
  • Cure Forward matches cancer patients with clinical trials.
  • Smart Patients lets you search for and browse colorectal cancer clinical trials.


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