Major pharmaceutical companies continually research and develop new breast cancer treatments, which must be shown to be safe and effective before doctors can prescribe them to patients. Through clinical trials, researchers test the effects of new medications on a group of volunteers with breast cancer. Following a strict protocol and using carefully controlled conditions, researchers evaluate the investigational drugs under development and measure the ability of the new drug to treat breast cancer, its safety, and any possible side effects.
Some patients are reluctant to take part in clinical trials for fear of getting no treatment at all. This fear is misguided. People who join clinical trials receive the most effective therapy currently available for their condition -- the same treatments they would get at a local cancer center -- or they may get new treatments being tested for future use. These drugs may be even more effective than the current treatment. Comparing them head-to-head is the only way to find out.
WebMD senior writer Miranda Hitti interviewed breast cancer survivors as part
of a series for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The series, called "Me & the
Girls," explores the personal stories of nine women who faced breast
Breast cancer survivor Mary Manasco, 59, lives in Jackson, Miss. In May
2008, a routine mammogram showed a suspicious spot in Manasco's right breast,
which led to another mammogram, a biopsy, and a diagnosis of
stage 1 breast cancer.
The diagnosis upset...
Rarely, the best current treatment -- called the standard of care -- may be no treatment. In this case, some people in a trial may land in a "no treatment" group, while others test the new therapy. Everyone gets at least the treatment they would receive from their regular cancer doctor and possibly a new therapy.
The following web sites offer information and services to help you find a breast cancer clinical trial that is right for you.
This web site, developed by the nonprofit Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups, is an unbiased cancer clinical trial matching and navigation service enabling patients to search for cancer trials based on disease and location.