NorthBay Cancer Center Clinical Trials

    Bringing Promising New Treatments to Solano County

    A clinical trial is one of the final stages in a careful research process to identify safe and effective new methods of cancer prevention, detection or treatment. NorthBay Cancer Center Clinical Trials program provides patients access to many cooperative group trials through association with the UC Davis Cancer Center, City of Hope National Medical Center and the Cancer Trials Support Unit. This means that local patients fighting cancer are usually able to stay in our community for the most promising treatments available.

    Current Clinical Trials  

    For more information about our clinical trials program, please call the Cancer Center at (707) 646-4000 or send an e-mail to

    For a list of current trials, click this link: NorthBay Cancer Center Clinical Trials (pdf)

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q.What is a Clinical Trial?

    A. Clinical trials are research studies in which people help doctors find ways to improve health and cancer care. Each study tries to answer scientific questions and to find better ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat cancer.

    Q. Why are there clinical trials?

    A. A clinical trial is one of the final stages of a long and careful cancer research process. Studies are performed with cancer patients to find out whether promising approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment are safe and effective. Clinical trials often become the latest treatment protocols.


    Q.What are the different types of clinical trials?


    • Treatment trials test new treatments (like a new cancer drug, new approaches to surgery or radiation therapy, new combinations of treatments, or new methods such as gene therapy).
    • Prevention trials test new approaches, such as medicines, vitamins, minerals, or other supplements that doctors believe may lower the risk of a certain type of cancer.
    • Screening trials test the best way to find cancer, especially in its early stages.
    • Quality of Life trials (also called Supportive Care trials) explore ways to improve comfort and quality of life for cancer patients.
    Back to top

    Q. What are the phases of clinical trials?

    A. Most new drugs are tested in a series of steps called phases. These phases provide researchers with a process that helps them collect reliable information and protect the patient. The three phases of clinical trial are:

    • Phase I trials: These are the first types of studies using patients. Phase I trials evaluate the best way to give a new drug (by mouth, injected into the blood, or injected into the muscle), how often the drug should be given, and help establish the safest dose. Only a small number of patients participate in the Phase I trial of a drug.
    • Phase II trials: Phase II trials generally focus on a particular type of cancer. Researchers do more fine-tuned evaluation of the drug’s safety and effectiveness.
    • Phase III trials: A phase III is the final stage of the long research process, the last step before a new drug or procedure becomes a standard of care. In this final stage, new drugs or combination of drugs, or a new surgical procedure, is compared to the current standard of care. A participant in a Phase III trial may be assigned to a group receiving the current standard treatment or to a group receiving the new treatment. The assignment of patients is made at random (called randomization). Larger numbers of patients often participate in this last phase of the trial.
    Back to top

    Q. Does NorthBay Cancer Center conduct clinical trials?

    A. The NorthBay Cancer Center participates in a number of cancer related clinical trials.

    Many of the trials are conducted in conjunction with the National Cancer Institute through research groups such as National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project, Southwest Oncology Group, and the Clinical Trials Support Unit.

    Other clinical trials include pharmaceutical company sponsored trials and trials offered in cooperation with other facilities. These trials focus primarily on the prevention and treatment of cancer. Chemotherapy is administered and monitored by specially trained nurses under the direction of medical oncologists Dr. James Long and Dr. Brian Vikstrom. This means that patients fighting cancer are usually able to stay in our community for the most promising treatments available.

    The NorthBay Cancer Center also participates in nursing studies examining symptoms in patients undergoing cancer treatments.

    Back to top

    Q. Is NorthBay Cancer Center as advanced as the large university cancer centers?

    A. NorthBay Cancer Center can offer patients promising treatments through clinical trials programs. Cancer Center medical director, Dr. James Long, has a history of participation in a variety of clinical trials and is well qualified to conduct clinical trials in the community. Such participation increases community access to the latest treatments, reducing the need for patient to travel to university hospitals. The NorthBay Cancer Center provides patients with access to many clinical trial therapies, making the center as advanced as any program in Northern California for treating the vast majority of cancers.

    Back to top

    Q. Should I take part in a clinical trial?

    A. Only you can make the decision about whether or not to participate in a clinical trial. Dr. James Long and the rest of the NorthBay Cancer Center staff will provide you with as much information as possible for you to make the best decision for you. Before you make your decision, we also recommend that you:

    • Learn as much as possible about your disease and the trials that are available to you. We have listed some websites to help you with this. If you don’t have computer access at home, most libraries have computer workstations with internet access.
    • Then, talk about what you’ve learned and how you feel about it with your doctor and/or nurse, family members and friends to help you determine what is right for you.
    Back to top

    Q. What are the potential risks and benefits of clinical trials?

    A. Potential benefits include:

    • Access to new and promising therapies before they are widely available.
    • Close monitoring of your health and any side effects.
    • The opportunity to be among the first to benefit from a new approach that may be found to be helpful.
    • The chance to make a valuable contribution to cancer research and to other cancer patients in the future.

    Potential risks include:

    • Potential side effects or risks not yet known to researchers.
    • New drugs and procedures may be ineffective, or less effective, than current approaches.
    • The new approach may not work for you, even if it shows benefits for other patients.
    Back to top

    Q. How are patients protected during a clinical trial?

    A. Participants in clinical trials are protected through strict government regulations. Before a government-funded clinical trial can begin, the trial plan (also called a protocol) must be approved. During the trial, protocols are frequently reviewed to ensure the treatment plan is being followed.

    Patients are further protected by the high clinical standards at the NorthBay Cancer Center. Our doctors and nurses, who are specially trained to conduct clinical trials, monitor patients on clinical trials very closely through examinations and conversations on the phone and in person. This way our staff can detect any potential side effects and treat them.

    Regulations require the researchers performing studies to thoroughly inform patients about a study's treatments and tests and their possible benefits and risks before a patient decides whether or not to participate in any study. This process is called informed consent.

    Back to top

    Q. What is informed consent?

    A. Informed consent is a process where you decide whether or not to participate in a clinical trial. As part of this process, the NorthBay Cancer Center staff will make sure you learn as much as possible about a clinical trial before you decide. In addition to talking with you about the facts about the particular clinical trial, you will also be provided with a written consent form that includes some of this information. This form can be taken home to read and discuss with your family. The consent form will include details about:

    • Study approach
    • Intervention given in the trial
    • Possible risks and benefits
    • Tests you may have

    Don't hesitate to ask questions until you have all the information you need. The informed consent process continues as long as you participate in the clinical trial. You can change your mind and leave the study whenever you want -- before the study starts or at any time during the study or follow-up period. The NorthBay Cancer Center can continue to care for you, even if you decide to leave the trial and be treated with standard treatment protocols.

    Back to top

    Q. Could I receive a placebo?

    A. Placebos ("dummy" pills that contain no active ingredient) are very rarely used in cancer trials. Most treatment trials are used to compare a new treatment with the current standard treatment. Patients are randomly assigned to a group receiving the new treatment and the current standard. Placebos may be used for comparison when no standard treatment exists for a particular cancer. In this case, you will be told of this possibility during the informed consent process.

    Back to top

    Q. Where can I go for more information about clinical trials?

    A. Please call the NorthBay Cancer Center clinical trials office at (707) 646-4000. The links below are also excellent sources of information.

    Back to top