Clinical Trials

Research studies involving people are called Clinical Trials. In cancer research, a clinical trial is a way of testing a new anticancer treatment or adding to our knowledge about existing treatments. Clinical trials are important because they allow the safety and effectiveness of new treatments to be properly tested. All existing NHS anticancer treatments have been first tested in clinical trials.

Types of Clinical Trials

There are many kinds of clinical trials:

  • Studies to prevent and/or detect early cancers
  • Studies designed to improve the treatment of cancer
  • Studies to evaluate the psychological impact of cancer
  • Studies to improve quality of life.

Clinical Trials at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre

At the Beatson there are approximately 120 clinical trials ongoing at any one time. If you are eligible for one of the trials you may be asked to take part and more details of the particular study will be discussed with you. Many factors determine whether a person is eligible for a clinical trial eg.:

  • The type and stage of the cancer
  • The general health of the patient
  • Any previous treatment may be important.

Your doctor will discuss treatment choices with you. 

New cancer treatments are usually studied in a sequence of clinical trials (phase I-III). More information on this can be found at or Cancer Research UK websites.

All of the clinical trials performed at the Beatson are co-ordinated locally by the Beatson Clinical Research Facility.

The Clinical Trials Unit

The Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) at the Beatson is one of the major Cancer Research UK Trials Units in the UK.

Keys tasks are:

  • Development of clinical trial protocols
  • Collection and processing of data for patients on clinical trials
  • Analysis of data and preparation of reports
  • Preparation of regulatory and ethical documentation.

Patients in clinical trials in the Beatson receive their care in the ward or clinic. There is a special area called the Clinical Research Unit where patients in early, Phase I clinical trials are treated.

Clinical Research Unit

Treatment trials are the most common type of trial and in cancer care they may be done to show whether new treatments are safe, what their side effects are and whether they are better than what is currently used.

Most trials compare a new treatment with an existing one. They are vital for developing more effective, kinder treatments that are effective, less invasive, have fewer side effects and give people a better quality of life during and after their treatment. 

Many drugs that are now commonly used in cancer care have been previously tested in clinical trials. Without ongoing research it would not be possible to add to our knowledge about effective treatments. Indeed the Beatson has been at the forefront of the trials which have demonstrated some of the most important improvements in cancer treatment in recent years. 

The decision to enter a clinical trial is always up to you. You will never be enrolled in a clinical trial without your knowledge. Taking part in a clinical trial does not always mean that you will get better treatment, but trials do help to improve the medical knowledge and understanding about cancer and the best way to treat it. However you should only agree to take part if you are completely happy with what you are being asked to do. 

All of the clinical trials performed at the Beatson are co-ordinated locally by the Beatson Clinical Research Facility (BCRF) which is one of the major trials units in the UK. All administrative aspects of the clinical trial work are co-ordinated within the BCRF and keys tasks include the collection and processing of data for patients on clinical trials and preparation of regulatory and ethical documentation. More information can be found on the BCRF website -

Contacting the Clinical Research Unit

Please do not hesitate to call if you have any questions or worries:

Clinical Research Unit
Level 1, Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre
Tel: 0141 301 7155

NHS Research Service SCRN


The Scottish Cancer Research Network (SCRN) has been established since 2004 and is now formally known as NHS Research Service- Cancer (NRS-Cancer). Within Scotland, NRS Cancer is led by Research Champion Professor David Cameron and is divided into four regions: North, East, South East and West. Each region has a Clinical Lead and a Network Manager to support their local trial portfolio and research teams. The clinical research supported by NRS Cancer is peer-reviewed, quality research that is included in the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) clinical trial portfolio or considered eligible by the Chief Scientist Office (CSO) in Scotland.

The hub of NRS Cancer - West is the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre (BWoSCC). From here extends the network of clinical trials staff based in hospitals in each of the West of Scotland Cancer Network NHS Health Board areas –, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Forth Valley and NHS Lanarkshire.  NRS Cancer - West research staff include research nurses and trial practitioners, regulatory administrators and data managers. Outside the BWoSCC, research teams support local recruitment to cancer clinical trials to allow patients with cancer the opportunity to participate in research at hospitals nearer to home.

The portfolio of clinical research offered across the West of Scotland includes trials of new drug treatments as well as studies that aim to improve the patient journey and experience. Research also considers the genetics, prevention, and diagnosis of cancer.  Trials that assess new types of radiotherapy are also a vital research area and NRS Cancer - West Clinical Trial Radiographers provide leadership in all aspects of radiotherapy trials across the West of Scotland region.

No two days are the same in clinical trials with trials opening and closing almost daily- this makes it an extremely rewarding and exciting job for all Network staff. Clinical research delivers better treatments and improved outcomes for current and future patients with cancer and we enjoy supporting patients in contributing to this.

If you are interested in taking part in clinical trials and would like to find out more please speak to your clinical team about this.


NRS- Cancer West Manager

Karen Bell: 0141 301 7206

Regulatory Administrator

Elaine MacLeod: 0141 301 7200

Further info:

National Institute Health Research:

Cancer Research UK:

NHS Research Scotland:

Chief Scientist Office (CSO)

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