Cutting-Edge Clinical Trials

As a UNM Cancer Center patient, you may be able to try some of the newest cancer treatments with the greatest promise. Cancer clinical trials are sponsored through the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and other leading cancer research institutions.

Clinical trials test and carefully study new treatments under strict oversight to protect people who join them. The trials can test new methods to diagnose, treat and prevent cancer. People who join clinical trials may be able to get treatments that are more effective than current treatments. And, they may feel good about helping scientists and doctors learn about new ways to treat cancer.

The UNM Cancer Center has about 175 clinical trials open at any time. About 15 percent of the people we treat decide to join a clinical trial. Each clinical trial has a set of conditions that you must meet before enrolling. You will have to talk to your physician to find out which clinical trials you can join, if any. If you choose to join, our medical and clinical research teams will closely watch you.

There are some risks to joining a clinical trial. After all, if we fully understood everything about new cancer treatments, we would not need to study them. One risk is that some new drugs or procedures tested in a clinical trial may not be better than the current drugs or procedures. They may have side effects that researchers and doctors do not expect. Or, the side effects may be worse than the current drugs or procedures. Another risk is that you may not always be able to choose which treatment you get. You may get the new treatment or you may not. Finally, you may be required to visit your doctor’s office more often if you join a clinical trial.

How can I enroll in a clinical trial?

To learn more about clinical trials, including potential benefits and risks, or to find out if a clinical trial is right for you, call our Clinical Research Office at 505-272-5490 or you can search our clinical trials to discuss with your doctor. You can also call our statewide clinical trials network, the New Mexico Cancer Care Alliance, at 505-272-7813 or visit them online at

Joining a clinical trial is a very personal decision that you should make with your doctor and your loved ones. All clinical trials are voluntary. You always have the right to choose whether or not you will join. You also have the right to leave a clinical trial at any time and for any reason. You will always get the highest level of care possible, whether or not you join a clinical trial.

Early Phase Clinical Trials

New cancer drugs and treatments go through a series of steps before they are approved for use. The early steps, called phases, test whether the new drug or treatment is safe, what its side effects are, and what the best dose for treatment is. Later phases make sure the new drug or treatment works better than the current standard therapy. Going through all the phases of testing can take a decade or more.

The Early Phase Clinical Trials program at UNM Cancer Center has many, many safety systems in place to test the newest, latest, most advanced drugs and therapies. Our program focuses especially on new immune therapies. People wishing to take part in early phase clinical trials may be able to get the latest treatments years ahead of its general use. If you would like to consider early phase clinical trials as part of your treatment plan, talk to your doctor.