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Other Types of Clinical Trials

Other Types of Clinical Trials

Imaging Trials

Imaging clinical trials differ from drug treatment trials in that the scientific question being asked deals with understanding if or how a specific imaging test can best be used for screening, diagnosing, and/or directing the treatment of a disease, or monitoring the response to a therapy.

As in other types of clinical trials an imaging clinical trial is a research study conducted using people who volunteer to participate. Each study answers specific scientific questions that will determine the value of imaging procedures for detecting, diagnosing, guiding, or monitoring the treatment of disease. Volunteers who take part in cancer-related imaging clinical trials have an opportunity to contribute to knowledge of, and progress against, cancer.

Types of imaging clinical trials:

  • Screening imaging clinical trials generally ask questions about what type of imaging test will best detect disease early, possibly before symptoms of the disease are noticed.
  • Diagnostic imaging clinical trials address questions of what type of imaging test will best detect disease when it is suspected or will help monitor known disease or monitor a therapy to evaluate its effectiveness.
  • Image-guided interventional clinical trials evaluate the role of therapies that are directed using imaging techniques.

Left -
A negative mammogram of the breast

Right -
MRI detected early stage cancer of same breast (bright nodules visible in the MRI image).


Image courtesy of ACRIN: med/17392300


New Directions for Imaging

Imaging can provide data on the results of cancer gene therapy, such as if new agents are hitting their target (targeted therapy), cell movement through the body and cellular apoptosis.

The following imaging topics will need to be tested using clinical trials:

  • Surveillance of high-risk populations
  • Administration of targeted therapies
  • Use of biomarkers to evaluate therapeutic response

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Surgical Clinical Trials

Surgical clinical trials are done primarily to evaluate the surgical management of patients with malignant solid tumors by conducting clinical trials to document best practices.


Most of these types of trials are conducted at a national level through the NCI Clinical trial network.


Radiology Clinical Trials

These types of trials systematically test novel radiotherapy approaches against cancer and also pursue fully integrated translational and quality of life research to support and further this effort.

They also formally evaluate the integration of optimized radiotherapy with new classes of anti-cancer therapies as well as:

Male Dr. Viewing Xray
  • Evaluate new forms of radiotherapy delivery, including stereotactic radiotherapy, brachytherapy, 3-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3-DCRT), and 30 intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) in the context of clinical research.
  • Test new systemic therapies in conjunction with radiotherapy, including chemotherapeutic drugs, hormonal strategies, biologic agents, and new classes of cytostatic, cytotoxic, and targeted therapies.
  • Employ translational research strategies to identify patient subgroups at risk for failure with existing treatments and identify new approaches for these patients.



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