About Cancer Clinical Trials

Contact Information

Contact UW Carbone Cancer Center for appointment scheduling, patient referrals and more information: 

(608) 262-5223

(800) 622-8922


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Clinical Trials: Myths and Misconceptions

One of the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center's greatest strengths is its involvement in groundbreaking clinical trials.


History of Clinical Trials


We have over 30 years experience in conducting cancer clinical trials. In 1979, the Carbone Cancer Center started conducting Phase I clinical trials, the first step in evaluating new treatments. At that time, the Carbone Cancer Center was among only 6 institutions in the country to be funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to conduct such studies. Today, 18 institutions, including the Carbone Cancer Center are NCI-funded Phase I facilities.

More than 250 clinical trials are available for patient enrollment at the Cancer Center. Some of our clinical trials are also conducted at community hospitals and regional cancer centers affiliated with the Carbone Cancer Center.


Clinical Trial Phases

  • Phase I: Phase I clinical trials are designed to identify the best way to give new treatments and the most appropriate dose. Information about dosage and side effects will then be used in future studies. Anywhere from 12-50 patients with various types of cancer participate in Phase I studies. University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center is unique in offering Phase I clinical trials as part of a patient's treatment plan since only certain facilities are able to conduct these types of studies.
  • Phase II: Phase II clinical trials are studies assessing the effectiveness of a treatment against specific types of cancer. Typically no more than 100 patients participate in each study. Treatments proven to be as effective as the current available therapies will be studied in Phase III clinical trials.
  • Phase III: Phase III clinical trials compare the current treatment to the treatment proven to be as effective from Phase II clinical trials. Many patients from across the country participate in these studies. Every patient involved in a Phase III study receives either the new treatment or the current treatment. Patients never receive a placebo in place of the best known treatment available for a given cancer.

Clinical Trial Costs


There are costs associated with participating in clinical trials at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center. In many cases, the cost of the drug that is being evaluated is supplied at no cost to the patient. However, there are other costs associated with clinical trials that may need to be covered by the patient or their health insurance.  


Policies vary widely, but in most cases your best bet is to talk with your physician first before initiating a discussion with your health plan.

Once a UWCCC physician has determined that you are a candidate to participate in a clinical study, a clinical trials coordinator can provide details about costs involved with that clinical trial and assist with issues related to insurance coverage.


For information about costs associated with clinical trials, go to Clinical Trials and Insurance Coverage from the National Cancer Institute.

Medicare Coverage of Clinical Trials


Any cancer care normally covered by Medicare is also covered when it is part of a clinical trial. Medicare does not cover investigational drugs, items, or services being tested in a trial. These costs are generally covered by the company or agency sponsoring the trial.   For information about Medicare coverage, go to http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/clinical-trials/paying/federal-programs.


VA Coverage of Clinical Trials  


The VA will pay medical costs of veterans who participate in clinical trials.  The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) signed an Interagency Agreement in January 1997 that is intended to increase the access of eligible veterans to all NCI-sponsored clinical trials. According to the agreement, VA will provide coverage for eligible veterans to participate in a broad range of clinical trials across the country.  


The partnership paves the way for more NCI clinical trials to be carried out in VA facilities. In addition, VA will pay the medical care costs of veterans who enroll in NCI trials in non-VA facilities in selected cases.  


More information about VA coverage of clinical trials