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Cancer Clinical Trials

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Cancer Clinical Trials

The Department of Defense (DoD) has partnered with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to offer Cancer Clinical Trials to eligible TRICARE beneficiaries.  The Cancer Clinical Trials provide NCI-sponsored cancer prevention and treatment studies as a TRICARE-covered health care benefit.

TRICARE will cost share:

  • All medical care and testing needed to determine eligibility for an NCI Cancer Clinical Trial.
  • All medical care needed because of participation in an NCI study.


All TRICARE beneficiaries in the following plans are eligible to participate:

  • TRICARE Prime
  • TRICARE Prime Remote
  • TRICARE Standard and Extra
  • TRICARE Reserve Select
  • TRICARE Retired Reserve
  • TRICARE For Life
  • TRICARE Young Adult
  • US Family Health Plan

Eligibility for the Cancer Clinical Trials ends if you lose eligibility for TRICARE. Be sure to keep your information current in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) to avoid loss of eligibility. Whether you choose to participate in these studies is a decision that you should make with help from your doctor.  Read the following sections carefully and talk to your doctor before making a decision.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that help find ways to prevent, diagnose or treat illnesses and improve health care.  When enrolled in these studies, people receive care that is considered the latest medicine or therapy, but is not yet approved as standard care.

Cancer Prevention Clinical Trials

There are two types of prevention clinical trials that study ways to reduce the risk of getting cancer:

  1. Action studies focus on finding out whether actions people take, such as getting more exercise or quitting smoking, can prevent cancer.
  2. Agent studies, also called chemoprevention studies, are designed to learn whether taking certain medicines, vitamins or food supplements can prevent cancer.

Cancer Treatment Clinical Trials

Cancer treatment trials, also known as research studies, test new treatments on people diagnosed with cancer.  The goal of this research is to find better ways to treat cancer and help cancer patients.  Cancer treatment trials study many types of strategies to fight cancer.  These include testing new drugs, new approaches to surgery or radiation therapy, new combinations of treatments or new methods, such as gene therapy.

What are the three phases of clinical trials?

Cancer prevention and treatment clinical trials are carried out in three phases. Each phase is part of a careful process to determine whether the activity or medicine being studied is safe and effective. The DoD/NCI agreement covers NCI-sponsored phase I, phase II and phase III cancer prevention and treatment clinical trials.

  • Phase I trials evaluate the safety of a new treatment on patients with advanced cancer that can’t be treated effectively with standard care. There are specific requirements for phase I trials and participation may be approved on a case-by-case basis.
  • Phase II trials focus on learning whether a new therapy has an anticancer effect, usually focusing on a particular type of cancer.
  • Phase III trials compare a promising new treatment against the standard approach.

Where are clinical trial participants treated?

NCI-sponsored clinical trials take place in the same facilities where standard medical care is given.  There are more than 2,000 sites throughout the U.S., including military hospitals, clinics, comprehensive and clinical cancer centers, community hospitals and practices.  While care can require patients to change physicians, there are times when their own doctors or specialists can administer certain care as part of the clinical trial.

Do some participants in the clinical trial get placebos?

A placebo is a substance with no active ingredients. No patient receives a placebo when effective care exists.

Last Updated 9/23/2013