Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Kidney Cancer Research Consortium (KCRC)?

The KCRC is a collaborative effort among leading research institutions to conduct innovative, multi-site clinical trials focused on kidney cancer. It was founded with the aim of linking biological characteristics of renal cell carcinoma subtypes to specific treatments and developing predictive biomarkers. Funded by the Department of Defense, KCRC leverages the expertise and infrastructure of its partner institutions to advance kidney cancer research and treatment.

What are the goals of KCRC?

KCRC aims to conduct mechanistic, hypothesis-testing, and hypothesis-generating clinical trials that can directly impact the treatment and understanding of kidney cancer. By identifying biological markers linked to treatment responses, KCRC seeks to develop targeted therapies and improve the precision of kidney cancer treatment.

How is KCRC funded?

KCRC is supported through a Department of Defense Consortium Development Award, reflecting a significant commitment from the federal government to advance kidney cancer research. This funding supports infrastructure and operational costs, enabling KCRC to focus on developing new therapies and improving patient outcomes. 

Why does the US Army fund the KCRC?

The U.S. Army, through the Department of Defense, funds research initiatives like KCRC to advance medical knowledge and treatments that can benefit military personnel and the general public. The investment in kidney cancer research reflects the importance of addressing this critical health challenge. Additionally, kidney cancer disproportionately impacts military servicemembers. It is a presumptive condition for US PACT Act benefits, and those who served in particular places at certain times can receive PACT ACT support for their kidney cancer treatment.

Who are the partner institutions of KCRC?

KCRC comprises seven partner institutions, including MD Anderson, UT Southwestern, Beth Israel, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt University, and Duke University. Each institution brings a wealth of scientific and clinical leadership in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) research, contributing to the consortium’s robust multicenter clinical trials.

How does KCRC contribute to kidney cancer research?

Through its collaborative clinical trials and research initiatives, KCRC contributes to the discovery of new therapies and treatment strategies for kidney cancer. The consortium’s work focuses on overcoming the challenges of renal cell carcinoma, enhancing patient care, and ultimately striving to find more effective and personalized treatment options.

What are clinical trials?

Clinical trials are research studies that involve people. Through clinical trials, doctors find new ways to improve treatments and the quality of life for people with certain diseases.

Researchers design cancer clinical trials to test new ways to:

  • treat cancer
  • find and diagnose cancer
  • prevent cancer
  • manage symptoms of cancer and side effects from its treatment

Clinical trials are the final step in a long process that begins with research in a lab. Before any new treatment is used with people in clinical trials, researchers work for many years to understand its effects on cancer cells in the lab and in animals. They also try to figure out the side effects it may cause.

When should I consider a clinical trial?

Any time you or a loved one needs treatment for cancer, clinical trials are an option to think about.

Trials are available for all stages of cancer. It is a myth that they are only for people who have advanced cancer that is not responding to treatment.

Ask your doctor about clinical trials that might be an option for you. You can also look for trials yourself by visiting Find NCI-Supported Clinical Trials.

What can I expect from a clinical trial?

Every trial has a person in charge, usually a doctor, who is called the principal investigator. The principal investigator prepares a plan for the trial, called a protocol.

The protocol explains what will be done during the trial. It also contains information that helps the doctor decide if this treatment is right for you.

The protocol includes information about:

      • the reason for doing the trial
      • who can join the trial (called “eligibility criteria”)
      • how many people are needed for the trial
      • any drugs or other treatments that will be given, how they will be given, the dose, and how often
      • what medical tests will be done and how often
      • what types of information will be collected about the people taking part
How can patients participate in KCRC clinical trials?

Patients with kidney cancer may be eligible to participate in clinical trials at various stages of their treatment. Interested patients can learn more about ongoing trials and eligibility criteria through the KCRC website or by contacting the consortium sites directly using the links provided on this site. Participation in clinical trials offers access to cutting-edge treatments and contributes to the advancement of kidney cancer research.

Can I participate in a clinical trial if I do not live in the U.S.?

Yes, international patients may be eligible for some KCRC clinical trials, depending on the specific study requirements and the ability to meet follow-up and treatment protocols. It is essential to contact the trial coordinator directly for detailed eligibility criteria and logistical arrangements.

Do participants have to pay to participate in a clinical trial?

Typically, clinical trial sponsors cover the cost of the treatment under study and related research expenses. However, participants may be responsible for routine care costs. Prospective participants should discuss any potential costs with the trial coordinator.

Are there risks to participating in a clinical trial?

Participation in any clinical trial involves risks, including possible side effects or the treatment being less effective than standard care. These risks vary by study and are fully disclosed during the informed consent process.

How can I find a clinical trial that is right for me?

If you are thinking about joining a clinical trial as a treatment option, the best place to start is to talk with your doctor or another member of your health care team.

Often, your doctor may know about a clinical trial that could be a good option for you. He or she may also be able to search for a trial for you, provide information, and answer questions to help you decide about joining a clinical trial.

Some doctors may not be aware of clinical trials that could be appropriate for you. If so, you may want to get a second opinion about your treatment options, including taking part in a clinical trial.

If you decide to look for trials on your own, the steps discussed at the NCI’s Clinical Trial Guide can direct you in your search. The NCI’s Cancer Information Service can also provide a tailored clinical trials search that you can discuss with your doctor. To reach them call 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) and select option 2. This is a free service.

Keep in mind that search results do not replace advice from your doctor.

What questions should I ask about a clinical trial?

Trial Objective

What is the main purpose of the trial? Is it to cure your cancer? To slow its growth or spread? To lessen the severity of cancer symptoms or the side effects of treatment? To determine whether a new treatment is safe and well-tolerated? Read this information carefully to learn whether the trial’s main objective matches your goals for treatment.

Eligibility Criteria

Do the details of your cancer diagnosis and your current overall state of health match the trial’s eligibility criteria? Some treatment trials will not accept people who have already been treated for their cancer. Other treatment trials are looking for people who have already been treated for their cancer.

Helpful tip: If you have just found out that you have cancer, the time to think about joining a trial is before you have any treatment. Talk with your doctor about how quickly you need to make a treatment decision.

Trial Location

Is the location of the trial manageable for you? Some trials take place at more than one location. Look carefully at how often you will need to receive treatment during the course of the trial. Decide how far and how often you are willing to travel. You will also need to ask whether the sponsoring organization will pay for some or all of your travel costs.

Study Length

How long will the trial run? Not all protocol summaries provide this information. If they do, consider the time involved and whether it will work for you and your family.

After thinking about these questions, if you are still interested in a clinical trial, then you are ready to contact the team running the trial.

Why are clinical trials important?

Today, people are living longer lives from successful cancer treatments that are the results of past clinical trials. Through clinical trials, doctors determine whether new treatments are safe and effective and work better than current treatments.

Clinical trials also help us find new ways to prevent and detect cancer. And they help us improve the quality of life for people during and after treatment.

When you take part in a clinical trial, you add to our knowledge about cancer and help improve cancer care for future patients. Clinical trials are the key to making progress against cancer.

Can children participate in clinical trials?

Yes, there are clinical trials for children with kidney cancer. Trials specific to pediatric patients are designed with age-appropriate protocols and consent processes. Parents or guardians are closely involved in the decision-making process.

How does the informed consent process work, and what are my rights regarding withdrawal from a trial?

Informed consent is a foundational element of participating in clinical research. It ensures that all participants are thoroughly informed about the study’s purpose, procedures, potential risks, and benefits before deciding to participate. Here’s how it works: 

  • Detailed Information: Before joining a clinical trial, you will receive detailed information about the study. This includes the trial’s purpose, duration, required procedures, potential risks and benefits, and any other relevant details to help you make an informed decision. 
  • Voluntary Participation: Participation in any clinical trial is entirely voluntary. You have the right to take your time to decide whether to participate and to discuss the opportunity with your family, friends, or healthcare providers before making your decision. 
  • Right to Withdraw: Importantly, you retain the right to withdraw your consent and discontinue participation in the trial at any point, for any reason, without penalty or loss of benefits to which you are otherwise entitled. Your decision to withdraw will not affect your future care or relationship with your healthcare providers. 
  • Ongoing Communication: Throughout the trial, you will be informed of any new findings or changes to the study that may affect your willingness to continue participating. This ensures that your decision to remain in the trial is based on the most current information available. 

The informed consent process is designed to protect your rights and well-being as a participant in clinical research. If you have any questions or concerns about a trial or the informed consent process, we encourage you to discuss them with the research team.


Why are the rules for entry into a clinical trial so strict?

Strict eligibility criteria are in place to ensure patient safety, to determine the effectiveness of the treatment, and to ensure that the results are scientifically valid. These criteria can also help identify participants who are most likely to benefit from the trial.

Can I participate even if I do not exactly qualify for a trial?

Typically, participants need to meet specific criteria to enroll in a clinical trial. However, discussing your situation with the trial coordinator is worthwhile, as there may be other available studies or future opportunities.

When will the results of clinical trials be made public?

Results are generally published after the study’s conclusion and analysis, which can vary in time. KCRC is committed to sharing outcomes with the medical community and participants as soon as they are available.

How long will it take before medications tested in a clinical trial are available for routine use?

The timeline from clinical trial to routine use can vary, often taking several years. This process includes regulatory review and approval, ensuring the treatment’s safety and efficacy.

How can I stay updated on KCRC's research and clinical trials?

To stay informed about the latest research findings, clinical trial opportunities, and consortium news, interested individuals can visit the KCRC website regularly. Additionally, following the KCRC researchers on Twitter will give you insight into their latest work.

How can I support KCRC?

Support for KCRC can come in various forms, including donations, participating in clinical trials, or spreading awareness about the consortium’s work. For those interested in contributing financially or in other ways, it’s recommended to contact KCRC directly to explore the best way to support their mission.