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Is a Breast Cancer Clinical Trial Right for You?


What Are the Advantages of Participating in a Breast Cancer 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 decreased, since many of the tests and physician 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 conducting the clinical trial.

What Are the Disadvantages of Participating in a Breast Cancer Clinical Trial?

When participating in a breast cancer clinical trial, keep in mind that:

  • All of the risks and side effects of the new treatment usually are not known at the beginning of the clinical trial. There may be unknown side effects, as well as hoped-for benefits. It's important to note that 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 in a randomized clinical trial, you may not receive the new treatment being studied. Many breast cancer clinical trials compare a new treatment along with current therapy versus the current therapy alone. Participants are randomly assigned to one or the other group. This will be explained to you before you decide to take part.
  • As with other forms of therapy, 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. Be sure to 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 in a Breast Cancer Clinical Trial?

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 final decision. However, there are many safeguards 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 Breast Cancer Clinical Trial?

Before you take part in any breast cancer research study, you will be asked to give informed consent to participate. Informed consent means that as a patient, you are given all available information so you can understand what is involved in a specific clinical trial. The physicians and nurses conducting the study will explain the treatment to you, including its possible benefits and risks.

WebMD Medical Reference

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