Cancer research and clinical trials

At Kaiser Permanente, you get innovative care backed by the latest science. All our researchers collaborate directly with our specialists and doctors. This lets our care teams quickly include the latest treatments and best practices in the care you receive.

Leading national cancer research

Kaiser Permanente is one of the largest enrolling sites in the nation for National Cancer Institute (NCI) clinical trials. And we’re one of only 46 NCI-approved community enrollment sites that focus on bringing clinical trials to patients close to home.

Our researchers are dedicated to understanding cancer risks and improving treatments to get better clinical results for patients with cancer. We quickly share the results of our research to help develop new treatments and clinical practices. That means our members get care based on the latest and most advanced research.

Thanks in part to this close connection between research and care, Kaiser Permanente was recently listed among the top oncology programs in the nation by Becker’s Hospital Review.1

Many Kaiser Permanente members choose to get involved in our cancer research. Their participation can offer them treatments not yet available to the public and create new and better ways to treat cancer. 

NCI Community Oncology Research Program logo

Connecting to care

Cancer research initiatives

Several researchers looking at computer

Cancer research studies

Our scientists and physician researchers are helping advance cancer care for people throughout the U.S. With 67 research centers across the country, we’re able to draw on an extremely large, diverse range of participants. Learn more about our work and how you might be able to get involved.

Researcher working in laboratory

Cancer clinical trials

Our doctors and oncologists develop clinical trials to test new cancer therapies. They also share successful results with Kaiser Permanente care teams across the nation. Thanks to this collaboration, members with cancer get treatment that’s backed by the latest science. See how we explore better ways to prevent and screen for cancer, track patients’ progress, and manage side effects from cancer care.

Researcher talking to a patient

Support for participants

Volunteering for cancer research is an important decision. Learn how we support members before, during, and after a research study or clinical trial.

Cancer research quick facts

Doctor studying lab results

200+ clinical trials

available to members 


Researcher working in laboratory

67 research centers

across the country in communities we serve


Doctor and patient in medical facility

11 new cancer treatments

approved over 2 years by the FDA using clinical trials that included our research2 


Cancer research studies

A cancer research study helps us improve our understanding of cancer risks and find better ways to detect and treat different types of cancer.

Our research teams collaborate with our doctors and other health care professionals to turn their findings into improved care for people with cancer. They also quickly share new or updated protocols with cancer specialists throughout Kaiser Permanente. That way, our patients benefit from the most advanced treatment as soon as possible. And we share our findings beyond Kaiser Permanente, which helps improve care for everyone in the broader community.

Depending on your situation, you may be able to volunteer for a research study. Each study has unique eligibility requirements. Your doctor can help you decide if there’s one that’s right for you.

Our large member population is ideal for researchers. It allows them to tap into a diverse range of anonymous data to advance their studies. Our many board-certified specialists also lead their own studies and can consult and partner on research. This collaboration helps advance research quickly, and successes are put into practice faster to help improve our cancer care.

We’re also part of the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). This program takes clinical trials to local communities as well as academic settings. By bringing the trials closer to where participants live, NCORP aims to better reflect the diversity of the U.S., which could help reduce cancer disparities among different groups. 

Check out these videos to learn more about NCORP’s commitment to making clinical trials more accessible. And watch a Kaiser Permanente investigator explain why these efforts are so important.

Here’s some more information on the progress our researchers have made for 2 of the most common types of cancer:

If you’re interested in getting involved in our cancer research, here are some ways to get started:

  • Talk to your doctor about research studies specific to your condition. Your doctor can help determine your eligibility.
  • Join the Kaiser Permanente Research Bank. Help drive medical breakthroughs by becoming part of one of the largest biobanks in the country. Just complete a brief health survey and provide a blood sample. Our researchers will use your anonymous information in their cancer research.

Not every patient chooses to participate in research. Your doctor can help you understand your options. And you’ll never be signed up for a study without your knowledge and consent.

Cancer clinical trials

A cancer clinical trial is a research study designed to improve treatment for people with cancer.

Clinical trials give patients with cancer access to cutting-edge treatment and medications in a safe environment. Before patients start a new treatment, it’s studied in a laboratory. The doctors who conduct clinical trials follow a carefully designed treatment plan protocol. Protocols outline what will be done in the trial and the research questions it will try to answer. They also help protect participants’ health.

In the case of new cancer medications, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires several rounds of clinical trials before they approve any drug to become available to the public. Each trial lets researchers better understand the effects of a medication on different groups of people. This helps them create treatments that work for a more diverse range of patients.

People participate in clinical trials for different reasons. For some, a clinical trial offers a possibility of relieving symptoms or finding a cure. For others, it helps them actively participate in their treatment program — while also helping advance treatment for future patients. Each clinical trial has specific guidelines about who can take part.

Learn more about how clinical trials work.

Like our other research studies, our clinical trials benefit from Kaiser Permanente’s large membership and the diverse communities we serve. We’re able to include patients of many different ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds in our clinical trials. This helps us determine the effects of a new treatment or medication on an extremely wide range of patients.

We hold clinical trials in specific regions and for certain types or stages of cancer. As a Kaiser Permanente member, you may be eligible for one of our clinical trials. Keep in mind that taking part in a clinical trial may not always benefit you directly. But the results can contribute to helping other people with the same condition.

Check out our clinical trial frequently asked questions.

The decision to volunteer for a clinical trial is a personal one. We recommend you talk to your doctor, family members, and friends before you decide.

If you're interested in joining a clinical trial, talk to your cancer care team. Your doctor will help find out if there’s a trial that may be right for you.

Not every patient chooses to participate in a clinical trial. Your doctor can help you understand if a clinical trial makes sense as an alternative to standard treatment. And you’ll never be signed up for a trial without your knowledge and consent.

Support for participants

Before starting a research study or clinical trial, you’ll get an informed consent document. It explains the details of the study and the possible risks and benefits. It also outlines your rights and responsibilities.

A member of the research team will then meet with you. This gives you a chance to talk about the study and ask any questions. Then you can make an informed decision about whether to take part. During the study, you always have the right to ask questions. You also have the right to stop participating at any time.

If you’re thinking about taking part, here are some questions to ask the research team to help you make an informed decision:

  • What’s the purpose of the study?
  • What kinds of tests and treatments will be used?
  • What are my other options for treatment?
  • What side effects can I expect?
  • How long will the study last?

An institutional review board (IRB) approves and tracks most clinical trials in the U.S. IRB committees include doctors, statisticians, patient advocates, and other community members. Their goal is to make sure each study is ethical and the risks as low as possible.

An IRB can stop any study that seems to be causing unexpected harm to participants. It can also stop a study early if there's clear evidence the new treatment is effective. This helps researchers make treatments available as soon as possible to people outside of the study who may benefit.

Kaiser Permanente conducts all research studies in compliance with regulatory and ethical guidelines. Each study has oversight by our regional IRBs and compliance groups. Your local research center can help if you have any questions about your participation.

Our research teams work out of 8 regional research centers and the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine. Each facility leads local programs in support of our major cancer research initiatives. They also support members involved in our research studies, as well as their families.

Explore your local research center to learn more about the researchers and cancer studies in your area:

Advances in cancer care

Cancer clinical trials: The role of immunotherapy

At Kaiser Permanente, clinical trials play a vital role in advancing cancer treatment. They can improve patients’ survival rates and their quality of life after cancer. Immunotherapy is a promising new cancer treatment being studied. One of our researchers explains how it may help a patient’s immune system fight cancer.

Latest cancer research news


1Brendan Talian, “60 Hospitals and Health Systems With Great Oncology Programs Headed Into 2023,” Becker’s Hospital Review, January 17, 2023.

2Based on 2020-2021 clinical trials data.