After a phase I or phase II trial is completed, the researchers look carefully at the data collected during the trial and decide whether to move on to the next trial with the treatment, or stop testing the treatment because it is not safe or effective.

When a phase III trial comes to an end, the researchers must look at the data and decide if the results have medical importance. When the analysis of a phase I, phase II, or phase III trial is complete, the researchers will inform the medical community and the public of the study results.

Publication of clinical trial results

In most cases, the results of trials are published in scientific or medical journals. To find out if the results of a study you participated in were published:

  1. Ask the doctor or nurse in charge of your treatment. 
  2. Find out the official name of your study and search for the study in the PubMed database of medical publications. If you have trouble locating the study or searching for it, the research librarian at a university or medical library may be able to help.
  3. Use the advanced search form to search for the trial among the closed protocols listed in NCI's registry of clinical trials (change the status of the trial from "active" to "closed" on the advanced search form). Thousands of closed protocols have reference citations for published results.

Most medical and scientific journals have in place a process of peer review, in which experts critique the report before it is published, to make sure that the analysis and conclusions are sound. Particularly important results are likely to be featured by the print or electronic media, and widely discussed at scientific meetings and by patient advocacy groups.

Translating clinical research into hope

Once an intervention is proven safe and effective in a clinical trial, it may become the new standard of practice. In this way the development of better interventions for prevention, for treatment, or for detection and diagnosis is an ongoing, continuous process that builds progressively on itself to improve the quality of cancer care and prevention available to us all.