Improving care through research

UW Health is a leader in clinical research by enrolling patients in clinical trials. We offer many trials for patients that are affected by many different types of disease.

Your participation in a clinical trial can impact the future of health.

By taking part in a clinical trial, you can:

  • Gain access to new treatments before they’re available to others

  • Help us learn more about disease and effective treatments

  • Contribute to and improve care for future patients

If you participate in a clinical trial at UW Health, researchers can more rapidly answer critical questions that will lead to better treatments and prevention options.

View clinical trials available at UW Health

Find a clinical trial

About clinical trials

What is a clinical trial?

Clinical trials are research studies involving human subjects. The studies help us learn if a promising new treatment or procedure works and is safe for a specific type of cancer. Decisions about taking part in trials are strictly up to you. Participating in a clinical trial is completely voluntary and you can stop participating at any time, for any reason.

Clinical trials take place in phases:

  • Phase I

    These trials usually involve no more than 50 people. They help us determine the best way to give a new medicine and the best dose. We are one of a select few places in the country able to offer phase I trials as part of your treatment.

  • Phase II

    Typically, up to 100 people take part in phase II trials. These trials focus on the treatment’s effectiveness.

  • Phase III

    New treatments that appear to be at least as effective as current treatments move on to phase III trials. These trials involve a much larger number of people from across the country. Participants receive either the standard cancer treatment or the new treatment.

Who can take part in a clinical trial?

Clinical trials are available for people with all different health concerns and also open to healthy volunteers on occasion. For each trial, there are eligibility criteria that participants must meet. Whether you can take part may depend on your age, for example, or results of certain lab tests. Researchers take great care to match you to trials that are right for you.

What costs are involved?

In many cases, the costs of drugs being studied in clinical trials are provided at no cost to you. However, there might be other expenses. We suggest talking with your doctor before contacting your health plan. If a doctor determines you qualify for a trial, a clinical research coordinator can provide more information and assist with your insurance provider.

UW Carbone Cancer Center and clinical trials

The UW Carbone Cancer Center typically has more than 250 clinical trials open for participation at any given time.

Clinical trials are research studies seeking better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. With more than 250 clinical trials available at UW Carbone, our patients are often among the first in the world with access to promising new treatments.

What to expect

Understanding the clinical trial process at UW Carbone

If you're interested in taking part in a clinical trial at UW Carbone, these are the steps involved:

  1. 01.
    Contact the UW Carbone Cancer Center

    You can reach our referral line at (608) 262-5223. A nurse will match you with clinical trials that may be right for you. You can also learn more about our current clinical trials through Studyfinder.

  2. 02.
    Talk with one of our cancer doctors

    The first visit could be done over the telephone, via a video visit or in person in our clinic. If we identify a study that you qualify for, we invite you to meet with members of the research team, including the doctor in charge. They will explain the goals of the trial, the treatment involved and the potential benefits for you. They will also answer your questions.

  3. 03.
    Learn about the risks

    Clinical trials must follow strict federal rules and regulations to protect the safety of trial participants. We make every effort to keep you safe during clinical trials. However, there are risks to clinical trials, including extra tests, procedures, and unexpected side effects. Our team will explain the potential risks and benefits to you. We make sure you are fully informed before you make decisions about participating.

  4. 04.
    Receive your treatment

    If you decide to enroll in the trial, you will receive treatment. However, you might not know if it’s the current standard of care or the new treatment. Our team will provide any instructions and follow your health closely with checkups and follow-up care.

If you decide to withdraw from the study, you're free to do so at any time. Clinical trials are always optional and you will still receive the best care from UW no matter what you choose.

Patient and support services

Learn more about clinical trials

These resources can help you learn more about clinical trials (cancer and non-cancer):