Advocate For Yourself By Searching For A Clinical Trials

As medical and scientific teams continue to learn more about melanoma and how it grows and spreads, they test new and improved treatments by conducting clinical trials. Clinical trials provide reliable results about new treatment options that offer hope for many people diagnosed with all stages of melanoma. You should ask your doctor about the availability of clinical trials that might apply to your situation.

Clinical trials are research studies that may be conducted to evaluate new methods for different areas of cancer care, including disease prevention, patient screening, diagnostic tools and procedures, genetic risk factors and lifestyle or behavioral changes that may improve health and/or quality of life. This includes testing drugs, biologics and other non-medication therapies such as radiation therapy and surgery, medical devices, screening approaches and other interventions. Trials may also evaluate patient-reported outcomes, which are important to improving the quality of patient care.

From early-stage to metastatic melanoma, hundreds of melanoma trials are currently underway. Areas of research include identifying drug therapies to treat genomic mutations; evaluating the benefits of certain drug therapies used alone, in combination with other therapies or in a different order; treatment benefits and side effects of certain types of radiation therapy; treating metastatic melanoma; and vaccinations, among others.

Receiving your cancer treatment through a clinical trial may offer you the following:

  • Access to state-of-the-art cancer treatment that is not available outside a clinical trial.
  • A high level of care from being monitored by the clinical trial’s medical team in addition to your regular oncologist.
  • A role in advancing cancer research by helping to improve treatment options for future patients.

As with any cancer treatment, a clinical trial presents potential risks and side effects. It may require more medical appointments and/or tests than you would ordinarily have scheduled. Ask in advance to make sure you’ll be able to rearrange your schedules for work, school, family commitments and other obligations to accommodate the appointments needed to meet the trial’s requirements.

As you and your doctor discuss the potential treatment option of a clinical trial, keep in mind that many trials take place at the same time in a variety of locations, making it difficult for your doctor to know about all of them. It takes research, and that’s where you come in. While your health care team is exploring potential trials, you can look for them online, too.

Navigating some sites can be confusing. To help prepare you for the different search sites available, we’ve created mock screens below to show you what you may see as you look for a trial that may apply to you.

How to Search for a Clinical Trial

Before you begin, have your exact diagnosis, pathology report and details of your current or prior cancer treatments on hand to help determine if you meet the basic eligibility criteria. Then, start by using the list of clinical trial sites below. Your doctor may recommend additional sites.


Enter Your Diagnosis

For example, enter “melanoma.” To further customize the search, select applicable eligibility criteria, such as age and gender, on the results screen.

Desired Location

If you prefer a clinical trial close to home, enter your home address. Enter additional locations if you’re willing and able to travel for treatment.

Other Terms

You can refine your search even more by adding a particular treatment type or genomic mutation. You can also add a National Clinical Trial identifier, which is a unique eight-digit code preceded by “NCT” that is assigned to each trial.


Recruitment Status

This indicates whether the trial is actively seeking patients, not yet recruiting or is otherwise inactive. The status will change, so check often for updates.

Summary of Study

Here you’ll find details about the purpose of the clinical trial and the treatment being studied. This section is usually written for health care providers, so it may be difficult to interpret. In that case, print out the information to discuss with your doctor.

Eligibility Criteria

This outlines the criteria you must meet to be eligible for the trial, such as the stage of disease, sites of metastasis, overall health requirements and previous treatment. Discuss any questions you may have about qualifying for clinical trials.

Contacts and Locations

This may contain contact information for the clinical trial investigators, staff or sponsors, who may be able to provide more details about the study.


This is the entity responsible for the clinical trial. It may be a pharmaceutical or biotechnology company, a university, the National Cancer Institute or others.