Clinical trials and primary care

Primary healthcare can play an important role in raising awareness of cancer clinical trials.

Increased awareness of clinical trials changes people’s attitudes and willingness to enrol. Participation in clinical trials can provide many benefits, including: 

  • helping people play an active role in their care
  • the potential for earlier access to promising interventions that are not yet widely available
  • supporting medical science advancements.

The role of GPs in clinical trials

Engaging in conversations with patients about the availability of trials, possible advantages and disadvantages of involvement, and how to enrol is essential to support informed decision-making about participation in research.


My patient has cancer... is a clinical trial an option?

The content below is taken from our information sheet for GPs about cancer clinical trials. You can also download the PDF version.

My patient has cancer... is a clinical trial an option?

The content below is taken from our information sheet for GPs about cancer clinical trials. You can also download the PDF version.

Download the information sheet for GPs about cancer clinical trials (PDF) >

Information for GPs about cancer clinical trials

  • GPs are the first point of care for 85% of cancer diagnoses.[1]
  • Many patients are unaware clinical trials are an option.
  • Patients are interested in enrolling in clinical trials.
  • GP awareness of clinical trials empowers patients to discuss trials with their specialist.
  • Patients value their GP’s involvement in their care.
  • Clinical trials may provide patients with access to new and potentially life-saving treatments and care.
  • Cancer clinical trials are not only for patients who have exhausted all treatment options.
  • Cancer clinical trial results benefit all people with cancer.
  • Prevent cancer.
  • Find and diagnose cancer.
  • Manage symptoms of cancer.
  • Treat cancer.
  • Manage side effects of cancer treatment.
  • Improve wellbeing (quality of life).
  • Monitor cancer over a long period.
  • People of any age are eligible.
  • People with any cancer stage are eligible.
  • Participation is voluntary.
  • Participants can withdraw any time. They will receive the best available standard of care.
  • Trials are approved by ethics committees to monitor safety and compliance to regulations.
  • Patients remain in the care of their GP during a trial, ensuring continuity of overall health care.
  • GPs communicate with the research team about their patient’s progress in a trial.

Possible advantages

  • Treat or control the cancer and improve patient’s health.
  • Access new treatments and care.
  • Help discover new or better ways to treat cancer.

Possible disadvantages

  • Tested treatment may not work.
  • The participant may experience side effects.
  • More tests and medical visits requiring more time, travel and parking costs.

To prepare for regulatory approval and integration into standard of care,clinical trials test the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals and other treatments. Clinical trial testing occurs across four common phases.

Phases of clinical research

Go to for useful resources on the following topics:

  • Why talk to your patients about clinical trials.
  • How to refer your patients for a clinical trial.
  • How to talk to your patients about clinical trials.
  • Canrefer: website search to identify􀀂cancer specialists and hospitals in NSW and ACT conducting trials: 
  • Recruiting cancer clinical trials in NSW: website search to identify cancer trials by cancer type and location
  • ClinTrial Refer: website or app search for trials, including cancer trials. Download ClinTrial Refer app for mobile phone or tablet.
Helpful links

Discussing cancer clinical trials with patients

Referring to sites conducting cancer clinical trials

How to find recruiting cancer clinical trials

Information for patients

Get in touch

If you'd like more information regarding any information on this page, contact our clinical trials team at



1. Nunez C, Nair-Shalliker V, Sarich P, Sitas F, Bauman A. Modifiable lifestyle factors and cancer risk: An Evidence Check rapid review brokered by the Sax Institute ( for the Cancer Institute NSW, 2018. Available at: