Is a Breast Cancer Clinical Trial Right for You?
What Are the Disadvantages?
When participating in a breast cancer clinical trial, keep in mind that:
- Usually, not all of the risks and side effects of the new treatment are known at the beginning of the clinical trial. Most treatments have potential side effects. Patients are informed of any known possible side effects before they join a clinical trial. They're also informed of any "new" side effects that have become known while they are participating in the trial.
- If you participate, you may not receive the new treatment being studied. Many breast cancer clinical trials combine a new treatment with a current one, and compare that combination to the current treatment alone. Participants are randomly assigned to receive either the new combination or the usual treatment. This will be explained to you before you decide to take part.
- The new treatment may not work for you, even if it helps others.
- Insurers do not always cover all of the costs associated with taking part in a clinical trial. Talk to your insurance provider before you decide to participate.
- There may be inconveniences, such as more frequent testing, more time at the doctor's office, and travel commitments.
Who Looks Out For Participants?
Breast cancer clinical trial participants are willing volunteers. Even though patients may be asked by their doctors to take part in a clinical trial, it is up to individuals to make the decision.
Many safeguards are in place to look out for the welfare of volunteers. These safeguards can't guarantee that you won't have complications, but they try to reduce risk as much as possible. Clinical trials are overseen by an investigational review board.
What Happens if I Join a Trial?
Before you take part in any breast cancer research study, you will be asked to give “informed consent” to participate. “Informed” means that as a patient, you are given all available information so you can understand what is involved in a specific clinical trial. The doctors and nurses conducting the study will explain the treatment to you, including its possible benefits and risks.
You will be given an informed consent form to read and consider carefully. Before signing, find out as much as possible about the clinical trial, including what risks you may face. Ask the doctor or nurse to explain parts of the form or the trial that are not clear. (See the section "Important Questions to Ask" below.)
If you decide to participate, you will sign the consent form. If you choose not to participate, your care will not be jeopardized.
Your signature on the informed consent form does not bind you to the study. Even if you sign the form, you are free to leave the trial at any time to receive other available treatments.
The informed consent process is ongoing. After you agree to participate in a breast cancer clinical trial, you will continue to receive any new information about your treatment that may affect your willingness to stay in the trial.