Cancer Clinical Trials

Most children with cancer receive treatment by taking part in research studies called clinical trials.

Seattle Children's is a leader in pediatric cancer research, including clinical trials of novel therapies - new drugs or other new treatment approaches that are available only to patients in studies.

Among all pediatric oncology centers in the nation, we are consistently among the top five for patient enrollment in clinical trials. We are a member of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and partners with Fred Hutch.

Seattle Children's is also home to the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research, which is developing immunotherapies that use the immune system to defeat cancer, such as T-cell therapy for leukemia and neuroblastoma.

You can search by diagnosis for many clinical trials available through Seattle Children's and its partners on Fred Hutch's clinical trials page.

Is there a study for my child?

Seattle Children's offers clinical trials for children with many kinds and stages of cancer, including:

  • Children whose disease is newly diagnosed
  • Children who are already in treatment
  • Children whose cancer has come back

Our researchers conduct trials to:

  • Test new therapies to find out how much of the therapy to give, how to give it, how often, and when side effects occur – called Phase I trials
  • Determine whether a new therapy is safe and effective against a particular disease – called Phase II trials
  • Compare a new therapy to the standard treatment, or compare a new use of existing therapies to the standard treatment – called Phase III trials

Besides testing treatments, our physician-scientists conduct studies to learn who's at risk for cancer and to better understand the biology and mechanisms of cancer, or how cancer works. We also study the best supportive therapies to help preserve our patients' quality of life, and we examine the long-term effects of cancer and its treatment.

We are among a small group of institutions that actively participate in all of these national networks for research on cancer in children: Children's Oncology Group (COG) Phase I Consortium, New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Therapy (NANT) and Therapeutic Advances in Childhood Leukemia.

To contact Seattle Children's about taking part in a cancer clinical trial, call 206-987-2106 or, toll-free, 866-987-2000. Our team is also available to consult with your doctor at home or to provide a second opinion.

Families may contact us directly without a doctor's referral. It's helpful if we can also speak with your child's doctor, if your child is not already a patient here. This is especially helpful if your child's cancer has come back after treatment. The doctor can often give our team details that are important to finding an appropriate clinical trial.

To give permission for your doctor or hospital and Seattle Children's to exchange information about your child's health:

  1. Download and print our release of information form (PDF), complete it, and fax it to us at 206-987-3946. This allows us to give out information about your child's health as described on the form.
  2. Get a release of information from your doctor or hospital at home, complete it, and fax it to us at 206-987-3946. This allows them to give us information.

If your child is a patient at Seattle Children's and there's a study here that matches your child's situation, your child's doctor will let you know. Then you and your child can choose whether to take part. We have clinical trials for a wide variety of newly diagnosed and relapsed cancers. Please contact us with questions at 206-987-2106 or, toll-free, 866-987-2000.

How do we decide whether to be in a study?

Each study has a list of characteristics that participants must meet in order to join. These are called eligibility criteria. Children and families who match the criteria for a study may be offered the option to take part. No one is enrolled automatically.

Your child's team at Seattle Children's is here to help guide you and answer questions as you decide about taking part in research. We will spend as much time as you like talking about the options. We'll also give you written material about any study you're considering. Your child's doctor and other caregivers at Seattle Children's are good resources if you have questions.

Some eligible families decide to take part, and others do not. Even after you begin a study, you can leave it at any time. If you decide not to take part, we will still provide the best care available for your child.

What other care will my child get?

When your child takes part in a clinical trial here, there's a team of people to provide the many types of care your child may need above and beyond the specific treatment being studied. You may be connected with professionals from many other areas of the hospital, such as nurses, dietitians, child life specialists, social workers, pharmacists, palliative care specialists and others.

We have an extensive network to help support your child and your family. We can even assist you with housing arrangements if you're from outside the area, and with schooling for our patients and their siblings. Read more about support for families coming from  outside the area.