Onderzoeksfoto lab (1)

Information about clinical trials


Informatie over klinische studies (trials)

At the Netherlands Cancer Center, we treat patients from all over the country. Every year, several thousands of them receive their treatment as part of our research into new therapies. This kind of research is called “clinical science research”, or “experimental studies”. We prefer to use the term “clinical trials” on our websites. Please find general information about our trials on this page. To find out whether there is a trial available for you, please consult your physician.

Our research

The Netherlands Cancer Institute is more than just a hospital: we have approximately 700 scientific researchers at our institute working towards improvements in cancer treatment. These scientists develop and test new drugs, monitor their effects on tumors, try to find the proper doses, and keep a close eye on the potential side effects. Our researchers are permanently involved in the development of improvements in diagnostics, refinements of our surgery techniques, and new ways of delivering radiation. Thanks to their efforts, we can have an increasingly firmer grip on cancer. Your practicing physician – at the NKI or at another hospital – may invite you to consider participating in one of our trials, or you may want to ask your physician about your options. We can’t predict what your experience with the clinical trial will be like. The treatment’s effects on your illness depend on many factors. Your physician will discuss your personal situation with you.

  • 450

    Within the Nederlands Cancer Institute there's an average of about 450 clinical studies.
  • 2500

    Every year about 2500 to 3000 patients of the NKI participate in a study. That is more than 20 percent.
Onderzoeksfoto lab

The different phases of clinical research

New treatments have to go through several trial phases before they can be used. Every phase has its own goal.

Neeltje Steeghs
Phase 1 trials are the core of the further development of cancer treatment.
Neeltje Steeghs Medical oncologist

Phase 1 trial

Phase 1 trial:
A phase 1 trial looks into the ways the human body responds to the drug. When researching new drugs, we often want to know how the substance behaves in the body, how it is metabolized, and what the best way of administering is (pill or IV). We aren’t concerned with the effects that the substance may have on the tumor at this phase. Researchers want to make sure that they know how to administer it, and how it will behave in the body. If the trial involves treatment with a new drug, you may not personally benefit much from your participation. A phase 1 trial can also involve a new drug schedule or a new combination of treatments. In these cases we do know a little bit about the way the drug(s) work, and their potential side effects, so the treatment you receive may benefit you.

Click here for more information about Phase 1 trials.

Click here for more information about our Clinical Pharmacology Department.

Phase 2 trial

A phase 2 trial looks into the way certain types of cancer respond to a new treatment. Does the drug have the desired effect on the tumor? Does it destroy the tumor cells or halt their growth?

Phase 3 trial

A phase 3 trial compares the results of the new treatment to the standard treatment. If the new treatment works well and is safe, it will be registered and made available.

What follows is a very long phase 4 trial which monitors the effects of the drug over a longer period of time: what are its long-term advantages and side-effects?

Your participation

Your physician will inform you about the trial, and provide you with some booklets or flyers with more information. Please read them carefully, and feel free discuss them with others.

Most people will be invited to attend an additional informative consultation with a specialized nurse. He or she will discuss the pros and cons of participation, what you can expect during the trial, the consequences, side-effects, and the additional patient burden. Your participation is completely voluntary. If you do decide to participate in the trial, you will be asked to sign a permission form. We call this your “informed consent”, and will keep it in your medical file. If needed, please feel free to withdraw your consent at any time.

Important information

1. Your participation in a clinical trial will not restrict your access to other care

If the clinical trial was unsuccessful in treating your cancer, you and your physician can decide to stop your participation in favor of a different kind of treatment, or consider participating in a different experimental study, if possible.

2. Clinical science research is safe

Patient safety is the Netherlands Cancer Institute’s prime concern. Our trials are designed by experts and will have to pass several rounds of inspection before opening up for patients. The Medical Review & Ethics Committee has to evaluate and approve the protocol. This committee consists of physicians, nurses, researchers, patients, and lawyers. Only after review and approval can we start our trials. The Dutch Medical Research Involving Human Subjects Act (Wet medisch-wetenschappelijk onderzoek met mensen; WMO) states under which precautions scientific research involving people can be conducted. The Medical Review & Ethics Committee also checks whether the study is in accordance with the WMO, and whether the rights of the patients are protected.

3. Clinical science is available to patients with cancer of any stage

Although all trials have their own participation criteria, trial participation is open to all patients, no matter the stage of their disease. Some possible criteria trials may use are: age, gender, cancer type or stage, previous treatment, and general health and wellbeing. Your physician can tell you what your options are.

4. Some trials are randomized

To ensure that a treatment is effective, some trials are randomized. This means that we treat an intervention group with the new treatment and compare their results with a control group (people who do not receive the new drug).

5. You are welcome to participate in a trial at the NKI, even if you are receiving treatment at a different hospital

In order to participate, you will have to transfer to our hospital for treatment, which means that you will have to come to the NKI regularly.

6. Participation in a clinical trial is covered by health insurance

All health insurance providers cover the costs of trial participation. You will have to obtain their permission first, however.

If you live far away, or need to be at the NKI early in the morning, you and your loved ones can stay at the Guest house next to the hospital.
Het Gasthuis