Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a clinical trial?

Clinical trials are research studies aimed at making cancer treatments better so people can live longer or live with less negative side effects. To achieve this, researchers test new drugs, medical protocols, treatments, medical devices and other cancer-fighting tools to learn innovative ways to tackle a disease. Researchers and doctors involved in clinical trials follow strict guidelines and steps to protect participants and their information while studying the effectiveness and safety of new treatments and medical devices.

What does phase I, phase II, and phase III mean?

On average, it can take a new cancer drug eight years to get through clinical trials. There are many phases a new drug or protocol goes through to ensure safety before doctors can use it to treat patients. Phase I answers the questions: how much, how safe, how often? This phase determines safe dosage range and identifies side effects. Phase II answers the question: does the new treatment do any good? This phase evaluates safety and effectiveness. Phase III answers the question: what’s better, the new treatment or the standard treatment? This phase confirms effectiveness, monitors side effects and compares the new treatment to treatment currently used.

Are Phase I, II and III trials included in this trial finder?

Trials that are included are mostly non-Phase I CRC trials that only include novel (new) therapeutics and/or novel (new) techniques. This means we avoid, for example, listing phase III trials comparing dose schedules of drugs already commonly used to treat CRC.

What is the late stage MSS-CRC trial finder?

This trial finder is a one-stop place to find and learn more about high-impact clinical trials for CRC patients. The Late Stage MSS-CRC Trial Finder is a place you can search for clinical trials that are open in your geography, and for which you may be eligible. The current data are limited to MSS (microsatellite-stable) and stage IV CRC patients. The list of trials curated here is sourced from the website.

How do I learn about enrolling in a clinical trial listed on the Late Stage MSS-CRC Trial Finder?

Each trial NCT# record hyperlink has information including contact information for that trial. If the trial is at your medical center, your oncologist will likely help facilitate the process. If it is at a different medical center (often the case), you can self-refer by calling or emailing the contact information given. This does not need to be done by your doctor. Once you establish contact, the trial’s medical team will guide you through the process of what you need to do – you do not need to know this info prior to contacting them! They will tell you what appointments you need to make (and help you make them), tell you what medical records they need, and the rest of the process that is required to confirm if you are eligible for that trial.

Where is the data in CRC Trials Finder coming from and how is it curated?

All clinical trial listings on this website are sourced from The data are updated weekly. The listings are curated using a process grounded in the patient perspective, emphasizing the relationship between patient values and the desire to find clinical trials with meaningful impact for their treatment. It's important to note that this is a curated list of clinical trials (specifically for MSS-CRC), it is not comprehensive. To see the logic flow we use to sort and select the trials, view our Logic one-pager.

How many new trials are added to this resource every week?

This really depends on when data is added to the clinical trial repository at Every week, newly added trials are curated by our team at Fight CRC and curated for inclusion in this search tool. Each week, there may be anywhere from 0-10 new CRC trials added.

Where can I find more general information about clinical trials?

Our detailed Clinical Trial fact sheet has information about clinical trials that can help inform you about informed consent, eligibility, trial success and more. Additionally, visit the Fight CRC website for more information and resources on clinical trials at

What's the story behind this trial finder?

Fight CRC partnered with Dr. Tom Marsilje to expand the reach of his late-stage clinical trials tool. For two years, Tom curated a spreadsheet of clinical trials for MSS colorectal cancer patients, based on a patient viewpoint. We began working with him in January 2017 on a new-and-improved version of his spreadsheet - which has become this online tool built by Flatiron Health. Our partnership allows us to work together to expand the reach and presence of this invaluable tool for patients. This groundbreaking resource puts the patient viewpoint at the core of the clinical trials search. Tom, and all of the patients who’ve used this tool so far, have shown the power of patients and changed the game in research! For more background, read our press release.

When is a good time to start looking for trials?

Typically, oncologists will recommend clinical trials after exhausting the standard of care treatment. It’s best to begin educating yourself early about the different options and how to enroll in clinical trials, however be sure to talk to your provider to find the best time to consider a trial based on your personal health history.

Who pays for clinical trials?

Clinical trial therapies are generally paid for by the sponsor of the trial. The standard of care treatments, like lab work, are often paid by your insurance company. Ask your doctor who will pay for each step of your trial.

What does MSI and MSS mean?

Tumors that are MSI-H, or Microsatellite Instable means that there is a high amount of instability in the tumor. MSI-H results when genes that regulate DNA (called Mismatch Repair Genes) don’t work correctly. Mismatch Repair Genes (MMR) work like genetic “spell checkers” by correcting errors in DNA as cells divide, similar to how “spell checkers” correct typos on a computer. MSI-H tumors account for approximately 15% of CRC tumors. Many patients with MSI-H tumors have had a positive response to immunotherapy treatments (or immune-checkpoint therapies). The opposite of MSI-H tumors are MSS tumors, or Microsatelite stable. These account for approximately 85% of all CRC patients. They are one of the most highly mutated tumor types. MSS tumors don’t respond well to immunotherapies. Research continues to study ways to effectively treat MSS tumors. Therefore, knowing your MSI status is extremely important prior to selecting a treatment.

How do I find out if my tumor is MSS or MSI-H?

Talk to your doctor if you are unsure of your tumor type. Your medical team will order the appropriate testing to determine if you are MSI-H. You can learn more at

I do not fit into the microsatellite-stable (MSS) or stage IV CRC categories. Where can I find trial options?

Fight CRC has partnerships with many organizations offering clinical trial finders. They can help you find trials that are right for you. To search, visit our Clinical Trials page.

Where can I find more research on IO/tumor classifications?

You can visit to learn more about biomarkers and tumor classifications.

Can I save my search options?

On the mobile app, you can save trials of interest using the “favorites” option that resembles a star. You can also customize your searches using the filter option. On the web-based tool, you can download an excel sheet of your trials to save them for later.

What is the difference between the mobile app and the web version of the trial finder?

The mobile phone application is very similar to the web-based version, and both tools house the same clinical trial information, however there are a few key differences. Using the mobile app, you can send a single clinical trial to another individual, or yourself via text, email or social media. You are also able to “favorite” individual trials to come back to at a later time. We are working to make these additional features available on the web-based version in the future.

How can I support this trial finder?

Powered by patients, goodwill and talent, the tool was initially built and designed during Flatiron’s “hackathon.” The Fight Colorectal Cancer research program currently hosts, updates, curates and manages the tool. Support Fight CRC research efforts.


The information contained in this website is not intended to recommend the self management of health problems, medical conditions or wellness. It is not intended to endorse or recommend any particular type of medical treatment, physician or treatment facility. Should any reader have any health care related questions, promptly call or consult your physician or healthcare provider. The information contained in this website should NOT be used by any reader to disregard medical and/or health related advice or provide a basis to delay consultation with a physician or a qualified healthcare provider. Fight Colorectal Cancer disclaims any liability based on information provided in this website. Go here to support Fight CRC research efforts.