Each study’s protocol has guidelines for who can or cannot participate in the study. These guidelines, called eligibility criteria, describe characteristics that must be shared by all participants. The criteria differ from study to study. They may include age, gender, medical history, and current health status. Eligibility criteria for treatment studies often require that patients have a particular type and stage of cancer.
Enrolling participants with similar characteristics ensures that the results will be due to what is under study and not other factors. In this way, eligibility criteria help researchers achieve accurate and meaningful results. These criteria also make certain that people who could be made worse by participating in the study are not exposed to the risk.