Patients & Families
Patients and Families
Provincial Clinical Trials

For Adults
The Capital Health Cancer Care Program at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax and the Cape Breton Cancer Centre in Sydney participate in clinical trials developed by a number of national and international cooperative cancer research groups. These include the National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC) and the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) among others. Many of the oncologists and nurses taking care of you are members of these groups and, along with many others throughout Canada and around the world, contribute to the success of international cancer research efforts. None of the efforts to improve cancer treatments, however, would be possible without the participation of patients like you.
Researchers in the cancer centres may also design their own research trials that are carried out only in their hospitals. A center may also participate in a trial sponsored by a pharmaceutical company that has a new therapy under development.

Regardless of who designed or initiated the clinical trial, all trials must pass a rigorous series of analyses ensuring that the trial is safe and complies with a set of international guidelines specifying good clinical practice before being approved.

When a new clinical trial is being offered, the information is sent to cancer doctors and research staff at the cancer centers. The trial is discussed and debated at many levels, including among the doctors, as well as within the clinical site teams specializing in the particular type of cancer being studied. The team considers the trial and decides if they want to take part. If they decide to take part, the information is provided to the hospital research ethics board (REB). The research ethics board involves a number of doctors, scientists, nurses and members of the public. Their job is to ensure that the trial being considered meets all criteria for being as safe as possible and to ensure that the trial design makes sense for patients as well as for the hospital. They also ensure that measures to protect patient confidentiality are clearly enforced and that all patients are treated according to good clinical practice guidelines in all parts of the trial. The research ethics board makes the final decision as to whether or not the hospital will approve participation in the trial.

No hospital can take part in every clinical trial. Whether or not a hospital takes part depends on the interests of the cancer doctors and researchers, the importance of the trials for patients with a particular type or stage of cancer, as well as the resources available to support the trials. Each hospital must decide which clinical trials and research are most important to it. For these reasons, the clinical trials available at the Capital Health Cancer Care Program may be different from those available at the Cape Breton Cancer Centre.

For Children
The IWK is an active member of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG). This is a group of hospitals that carry out trials with children and teenagers who have cancer. Members include cancer centres from all major universities and teaching hospitals throughout Canada and the United States, as well as sites in Europe and Australia.

Research in children is carried out according to very specific rules. These rules include specific details on required tests, treatments, follow-up visits and many other parts of patient care. It is important that each patient is treated in the same way, making sure that differences are not due to things other than the treatment used in the trial. The COG sends the rules for a new clinical trial to the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) to be approved for use. Following approval, the COG sends the rules to their members, including the IWK. If the cancer doctors at the IWK Health Centre decide they want to take part in the trial, they must then get permission from the hospital before they can ask patients to take part in the trial.

For information about trials available at the IWK, contact the COG liaison by phone at 902-470-8669 or by fax at 902-470-8094.

Clinical Trials
More information on clinical trials available in Nova Scotia is available from the Canadian Cancer Trials website.