Melanoma research and clinical trials

Author: Vanessa Ngan, Staff Writer; Copy Editor: Clare Morrison; Chief Editor: Dr Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, October 2013. About Melanoma is sponsored by the New Zealand Dermatological Society Incorporated.


There is much research happening in the area of melanoma. Research and clinical trials increase and improve our understanding of how and why melanoma start, and who is more likely to get melanoma. New information coming to light leads to more effective early diagnosis and treatment.

As a patient with melanoma, particularly melanoma in the late stages, being part of a clinical trial can give you access to the newest treatments or procedures available. Here we answer some common questions or concerns you may have if considering taking part in a clinical trial.

What is a clinical trial?

A clinical trial involves a treatment, which can be a drug, device or procedure, closely tested and monitored in a select group of patients. The product under investigation has not been approved by a country’s governing body (e.g. US FDA and NZ Medsafe), and it is not until it has gone through rigorous clinical research and testing that it may become available to the public.

Why should I take part in a melanoma clinical trial?

Several reasons why you should consider taking part in a clinical trial include:

What are the risks of taking part in a melanoma clinical trial?

It is only normal to be a bit unsure about taking part in a clinical trial. Questions you might be thinking could be, what if it makes me feel worse? Is it dangerous? How much time will it take?

Some of the risks and uncertainties you may have about taking part in a clinical trial could be:

At any time throughout a clinical trial you can stop taking part and go back to receiving current standard treatment.

What will I need to do to take part in a melanoma clinical trial?

Taking part in a clinical trial is voluntary. Before taking part, a doctor or health professional linked to the trial will explain to you every aspect of the trial and what your involvement will mean. You will be given a clinical trial informed consent document that provides a summary of the trial and your rights as a clinical trial participant. By signing this document you are giving your official consent to take part in the clinical trial.

Throughout the clinical trial you should receive ongoing explanations and updates to help you make informed decisions about whether to continue taking part in the trial. You will always have the opportunity to ask questions before, during and after the trial.

Links to further information about melanoma clinical trials


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