Sir Bobby Robson

"I’m extremely proud that this Cancer Trials Research Centre is based here in my native North-East. I’ve no doubt that it is one of the best facilities of its kind, not just in this country, but in Europe."


Jargon buster


A type of treatment that looks exactly like the treatment being tested, but it does not actually contain any part of that treatment. Some studies compare a new treatment against a placebo to test if the effect of the new treatment is a true one or not.

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Northern Centre for Cancer Care

Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre

Contact: (0191) 213 8453 – Sir Bobby Robson Unit Reception

Our ambition is not only to provide the best possible care today, but to ensure that our patients of tomorrow have access to increasingly improved diagnosis and treatment.

Newcastle upon Tyne is internationally renowned for its contribution and innovation in successful cancer research during the last 40 years. NCCC is the national lead in a hereditary breast and ovarian cancer trial using a new class of anti-cancer drugs developed in collaboration with Newcastle University.

Clinical trials play a key role in the development of new cancer treatments and we are proud that our experts here in Newcastle have developed two major new cancer drugs in recent years and are leading the way in stem cell harvesting.

Leaders in clinical research - building a better future for all of us

This tradition of excellence is continuing in the NCCC with the establishment of the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre, a dedicated clinical research facility set up by the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and supported by the generosity of people from all walks of life in the North-East. All money raised by the Foundation goes towards funding clinical research into new anti-cancer drug therapies. This means that you may be the first to benefit from ground-breaking new treatments, by helping our Clinical Trials Unit with trials for potential new therapies developed by the Northern Institute of Cancer Research, Cancer Research UK and the international pharmaceutical industry.

Taking part in a clinical trial or research study

As part of your care and treatment with us, we may have approached you about taking part in a clinical trial or research study. Here we will try and explain what this involves:

What are clinical trials?

Clinical trials are scientific research studies that examine different aspects of patient care including new methods of prevention, diagnosis or treatment. Some trials look at different ways of giving existing treatments, while others look at the effects that a particular treatment has on patients’ quality of life.

Why are clinical trials important?

Clinical trials contribute to our knowledge and understanding. Many of the everyday routine treatments we now use have come about from testing done in previous trials. They also help improve the standard of patient care we deliver, as the treatment offered comes from sound evidence from earlier trials.

How are new treatments developed and tested?

Each new treatment goes through strict testing before it is offered to patients as an established treatment. This involves laboratory tests and then testing with patients as a clinical trial. The whole process of testing can take years.

What does a trial involve?

Trials usually have guidelines as to who is eligible to take part. These guidelines help ensure the welfare of those taking part, and to work out who will be best suited to take part in a trial. If you are not selected, you will still continue to receive the best latest treatment available.

If you are selected, you will be able to talk to the doctors and the research team about the details of the trial – the kind of treatment you will receive, possible side effects, and what extra tests might come as part of the trial.

Once all of the details have been explained and you have asked the questions you want to ask, you will be given written information, so you can take it home, think it over, and talk to your family, friends and GP before making a decision.  See our Introduction to Medical Research & Clinical Trials for more information.

Remember, it is entirely your own decision. You are under no obligation.  

Informed consent

If you agree to take part, you will be asked to sign a form saying you understand that you are agreeing to take part in a clinical trial. This is called informed consent. This form is for your protection. It will clearly state that you are allowed to leave the trial at any time if you want to, and you don’t have to give a reason. There will be the name of a contact person if you have any problems, and your GP may also be told that you are taking part in a trial. 

Staff you are likely to meet

The clinical team in the Clinical Trials Unit is made up of two teams:

  • one looking at early drug research
  • one looking at later drug development research.

A senior research sister leads each team with the support of research nurses and other support staff.  A research radiographer also works in the later drug development team and there are clinical trials officers within the unit.

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