Cancer clinical trials involve a series of steps, called phases. If a new treatment is successful in one phase, it moves on to the next.
During the early phases (phases I and II), researchers find out if a new treatment is safe, what – if any – side effects the treatment has, the best dose, and if it has some benefit for the patient. Phase III looks at whether the treatment is better than other treatments already available. Phase III also includes large numbers of patients to make sure the results are valid.
Number of patients: 15 to 30 (learn more about Phase I trials)
Number of patients: Less than 100
Number of patients: from 100 to several thousand
Some researchers combine two phases (phase I and II or phase II and III) in a single protocol. This type of combined clinical trial may allow questions to be answered more quickly or with fewer patients.