Can Cancer Patients Participate in More Than One Clinical Trial at a Time?

clinical trials

Sara Tolaney, MD, and Geoffrey Shapiro, MD, help connect breast cancer patients with clinical trials.

Clinical trials are a key part of medical science’s effort to improve treatments for cancer patients. There are a variety of different types of trials, including therapeutic clinical trials, which test the safety and effectiveness of potential new agents in patients. Some patients participate in several therapeutic clinical trials, in succession, over the course of their treatment.

As a general rule, patients can enroll in only one therapeutic clinical trial at a time, says Bruce Johnson, MD, Dana-Farber’s chief clinical research officer. This is because trials are designed to focus on a specific therapy or treatment regimen. Participation in multiple trials would make it difficult for researchers to identify the risks and benefits of each therapy on its own.

Patients may, however, participate in a tumor-banking trial at the same time that they’re taking part in a trial of a new therapy. A tumor-banking trials involves collecting and storing tumor tissue for later analysis. Such analysis may help determine which tumors are most likely to respond to particular drugs, for example, or which tumors are at greatest risk of metastasizing.

In some cases, patients can participate simultaneously in a therapeutic trial and a lifestyle intervention trial, which studies the effect of changes in diet or exercise. It is important to speak with your doctor and care team about clinical trials you qualify for, and whether you can participate in more than one at a time.


Want to learn more? Hear from cancer patients who have participated in clinical trials:

    Make An Appointment

    For adults: 877-960-1562

    Quick access: Appointments as soon as the next day for new adult patients

    For children: 888-733-4662

    All content in these blogs is provided by independent writers and does not represent the opinions or advice of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute or its partners.

    Latest Tweets

    Dana-Farber @danafarber
    It’s not uncommon for #cancer patients to take to a pen after a diagnosis. Peter Rooney’s taken that to another lev…
    Dana-Farber @danafarber
    People with certain chronic health conditions, including cancer, have a higher risk of becoming ill with the flu. A…
    Dana-Farber @danafarber
    RT @TheJimmyFund: Help us spread kindness today. For every retweet, Cancer Fighters Club will give $10 – up to $4,000 – to support @DanaFar…

    Republish our posts on your blog

    Interested in sharing one of our stories on your blog? Feel free to republish this content! We just ask that you credit Dana-Farber, link to the original article, and refrain from making edits that change the original context. Questions? Email the editors at