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Is a Breast Cancer Clinical Trial Right for You?

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What Are the Advantages of Participating in a Clinical Trial?

By participating in a breast cancer clinical trial:

  • You may receive a potential treatment before it is widely available to the public.
  • You can provide researchers with the information they need to continue developing new procedures and introducing new treatment methods.
  • The treatment being studied may be more effective than the standard treatments.
  • Your treatment costs may be less, since many of the tests and doctor visits that are directly related to the clinical trial are paid for by the company or agency sponsoring the study. Be sure to discuss treatment costs with the doctors and nurses running the clinical trial.

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.

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