Barriers to Clinical Trials

Only three percent of U.S. adults with cancer (all cancer types) participate in clinical trials, but it is estimated that 20 percent are eligible.

Why do so few patients participate in clinical trials?

There are valid reasons why people do not participate. For example, the patient may not meet the eligibility criteria or there may be practical or personal obstacles such as the distance to the closest trial.  Unfortunately, some women do not participate because they don’t have the information they need or are given the wrong information. It is important that each person has the correct information to make an informed decision. Women should be able to consider clinical trials from the start of their care.

Some common barriers that prevent patients from considering clinical trials are:

  • Don’t know about clinical trials
  • Don’t know how to find trials
  • May be afraid or suspicious of research
  • Have practical or personal obstacles
  • Feel like they can’t afford to participate
  • May not want to go against their doctor’s wishes
  • Believe that if they participate they may not get any other treatment

Doctors themselves can be more helpful in encouraging patients to consider clinical trials. Many doctors:

  • Don’t know about clinical trials
  • Are unwilling to “lose control” of a person’s care
  • Believe that standard therapy alone is best
  • Be concerned that clinical trials add administrative burdens
  • Be concerned about how the patient will react to the suggestion of a clinical trial

If you are interested in a clinical trial, you should not hesitate to ask your doctor about whether there are trials that might be right for you. If your physician does not know how to find trials, refer him or her to the  Find a Clinical Trial section of this Web site.

Learn more about Common Questions, Concerns and Misperceptions pertaining to Clinical Trials>