Should you consider joining a clinical trial for your breast cancer treatment?

If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, there are many different treatment options that your care team will discuss with you, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Another option for patients is taking part in a clinical trial. Clinical trials can be a way to benefit from new breast cancer treatments before they enter the market, plus, they allow people with breast cancer to be part of the process of research for a disease cure. Could a clinical trial make sense as part of your cancer treatment plan? Here is what you need to know.

What is a clinical trial?
During a clinical trial, new drug is tested on patients to determine its safety, effectiveness, and side effects. Once drugs reach the stage of human clinical trials, they have undergone a long process of testing in the lab setting and are considered to be safe enough for humans to take while they are being monitored.

Clinical trials happen in four phases:

  • Phase I: Done to test the safety of different doses of a drug
  • Phase II: Done to test the effectiveness of a drug
  • Phase III: Done to compare the effectiveness of a new drug versus the current standard of care
  • Phase IV: Done to determine the side effects of long-term treatment with a new drug

Who is eligible?
Every clinical trial has its own set of eligibility criteria. There are usually clinical trials open to people who are currently getting treatment for breast cancer and people who had breast cancer in the past and are in remission.

Even if you are eligible for a trial, you should consult with your cancer care team to see if it is appropriate for your needs. If you have breast cancer, you can rest assured that you will not receive a placebo during a clinical trial. You will receive either the drug being tested or your current treatment.

What are the benefits?
Clinical trials give you access to medications that are not currently available but that could be effective in treating your cancer. This can be especially beneficial if your current treatment plan is not as effective as you had hoped.

The cancer care team at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center can explain the pros and cons of clinical trials to breast cancer patients and connect you with current trials for which you may be eligible. Contact our hospital in West Hills at (818) 676-4321.