Worldwide Cancer Research Menu

International Clinical Trials Day

On International Clinical Trials day we say a heartfelt “thank you” to the millions of people across the world who volunteer to participate in cancer research every year.

In May 1747, Scottish surgeon James Lind carried out the first known example of a clinical trial, on twelve sailors with scurvy. Grouping the twelve into pairs and giving each pair a different experimental remedy for just two weeks, he showed that citrus fruits were the key. International Clinical Trials day is held annually in late May in recognition of this very first attempt to find an effective treatment through a fair and controlled test.

Of course, clinical trials have moved on a lot in the last 270 years. For a complex disease like cancer, the final stages of drug testing involve not twelve, but hundreds or thousands of volunteers worldwide. Those who sign up for trials may have a chance of benefiting from an experimental treatment, but another strong motivation is often the wish of helping others diagnosed with cancer in future. There is no doubt that it does. Without those volunteers, it’s hard to see how all the new cancer treatments that have helped double cancer survival in the last 40 years would exist.

Dr Helen Rippon, Head of Research at Worldwide Cancer Research, explains why this is so important in our blog.