When talking about breast cancer, you may hear of clinical trials. They help the revolution of breast cancer treatment.
Participating in a clinical trial not only has the potential to help a single patient but also helps determine if a new, promising treatment will be an effective option for other patients. It can be overwhelming when researching information about clinical trials; we selected some of the most frequently asked questions and answered them below.
Why are clinical trials important?
Clinical trials are used to test new ways to screen, prevent, diagnose or treat a disease. For example, whether a new breast cancer therapy or test becomes part of standard treatment, depends largely on clinical trial results.
Often, trials are funded by a single agency like the National Cancer Institute (a government agency) and are done at the same time in many sites across the country. They are known as cooperative group clinical trials and allow researchers to increase the number of people in a given study.
Who benefits from clinical trials?
Clinical trials offer patients the possibility to try new treatments and to benefit from them. Those with breast cancer are encouraged to join a clinical trial. As new therapies develop, they can open doors to other treatments and procedures that may be even more effective.
Oftentimes misconceptions around the use of placebos deter patients from joining a clinical trial. Many patients are afraid of receiving a placebo, or inactive treatment. However, placebos are NOT used in metastatic breast cancer clinical trials.
For non-metastatic breast cancer trials they are not commonly used — patients either receive the new treatment or standard treatment. Sometimes patients may get the standard treatment plus a placebo but your health care provider or the clinical trial staff can tell you if a placebo (in addition to standard treatment) is used in the study.
Who Can Participate in a Clinical Trial?
Clinical trials aren’t just for people undergoing breast cancer treatment. There are also clinical trials for people who:
· Have finished treatment: Studies long-term effects of treatment or the survival benefits of lifestyle behaviors
· Have NEVER had breast cancer: Studies non-treatment areas, such as prevention and screening
If you are interested in participating in a clinical trial, you should have a conversation with your doctor to see if joining a clinical trial is right for you.
How do I find a clinical trial?
BreastCancerTrials.org, in collaboration with Susan G. Komen, offers a custom matching service to help identify clinical trials for people with breast cancer.
When can one participate in a clinical trial?
· Newly diagnosed with breast cancer? Join before starting treatment.
· Early breast cancer? For most people with early breast cancer, treatment does not start right after diagnosis. Use this time to look for a clinical trial that meets your needs.
· Breast cancer recurrence? Join before treatment for recurrence begins or when your health care provider is considering changing treatments.
· Metastatic breast cancer? Join when your provider is considering changing treatments or before starting a new treatment.
Clinical trials can be intimidating if you do not know all of the facts. There are several resources you can use to find out more about past and current trials. For more information, call 1–877 GO KOMEN or schedule a visit with your doctor.
Here at Komen CSNJ, we are dedicated to ending breast cancer forever, and we are here for those that need guidance, support and help. Visit our website at komencsnj.org or call us at 608–896–1201 for more information.