How to Take Part in a Clinical Trial for Colon Cancer

Finding a clinical trial that is right for you can be a daunting task. There are literally thousands of trials in progress as you read this, with more being conceptualized each day. Whether you have already discussed trials with your doctor or are just getting started in your search, the foremost important way you can help yourself is by getting educated. A clinical trial can impact your treatment and survival with colon cancer, so it is important that you know what you are getting into before you sign up.

Talk to Your Oncologist First

Get started by talking with your oncologist. He or she can discuss whether or not you are even a candidate, and might know of new or ongoing trials in your area. Likewise, if you have already researched trials, you can discuss the inclusion criteria with your doctor to see if you might be a candidate.

Gathering Information

If you are receiving treatment at a cancer facility, look around and inquire about patient information or resources for clinical trials. Many of the larger centers even have libraries and specialists dedicated to helping you learn more about your disease and treatment. Likewise, if you do not have internet access at home, many facilities have a computer room dedicated for education. Take advantage of these free resources to learn more. 

If you find specific colon cancer clinical trials that appeal to you take note of the who, where, and the hows of the trial.  

Who is Eligible

Every trial has specific criteria – or requirements – that must be met to take part in that specific trial. Some inclusion factors include the type of cancer, stage of cancer and your age. For instance, there might be a current trial that is looking for volunteers aged 30 to 59 years old, for stage III colon cancer only.

Similarly, each trial has exclusion criteria that might preclude your eligibility. For example, some trials may not allow anyone with cancer and diabetes to join, or perhaps you are older or younger than the required age.


Electing to take part in a trial that is not close to home is a personal and financial decision. Take some time to consider – and discuss with your loved ones – if you are able and willing to travel if required. Many of the large medical facilities host clinical trials, however you might not be geographically close to one of these locations. For instance, a quick Web search came up with two immediate results for colon cancer clinical trials, which included Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York and the Johns Hopkins Cancer Center in Maryland. If a trial is not local and is of interest to you, you might want to contact the clinical trials specialist for that location and see if there are housing resources allocated to the study.

What Do You Expect to Gain

Before taking part in a study you should consider carefully your goals in joining.

Some trials may provide options for a new treatment regimen, however there could be some risk involved. You may also want to think about what type of trial interests you. Clinical trials can range from new cancer treatments to the effect of diet, lifestyle, and even dietary supplements on your specific stage of colon cancer. If you’re only interested in treatment, be sure to make that a part of your search criteria so that you do not get bogged down with search results of no interest to you.

Finding Information on the Web

If you want to get a feel for what is available try typing “colon cancer clinical trials” into your search engine. Depending on your browser, you might get the same result I did: About 1,950,000 results. That’s a lot a Web surfing. Next, consider only the top sites – be wary of individually sponsored links and consider starting with or the National Cancer Institute site. Further narrow your search within these sites by:

  • Typing in colon cancer and your stage
  • Adding only the criteria you are interested in such as treatment or diet
  • Searching by location of studies only to find something close to you

It might also help to keep detailed notes of studies that interest you. Unless you want to spend hours sitting at the computer, keeping notes and conducting short internet searches might save your energy and be less overwhelming.


National Cancer Institute. (n.d.) How to Find a Cancer Treatment Trial: A 10 Step Guide. Accessed online May 19, 2015.

National Cancer Institute. (n.d.) What Are Clinical Trials? Accessed online May 22, 2015.

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