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Is a Breast Cancer Clinical Trial Right for You?

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Who Can Participate?

Each breast cancer clinical trial enrolls patients with certain conditions and symptoms. If you fit the guidelines for a trial, you may be able to participate. Screening tests are used to confirm eligibility.

What Is it Like To Participate?

All breast cancer patients face a new world of medical terms and procedures. Fears and myths of "experimentation" or "being a guinea pig" are common concerns.

Help calm your fears of the unknown by understanding what is involved in a clinical trial before agreeing to participate. Here's some information that may help ease your concerns:

  • The personal information gathered about you during the trial will remain confidential and will not be reported with your name attached.
  • If at any time during the study your doctor feels it is in your best interest to quit, you will be free to do so. This will not in any way affect your future treatment.
  • Clinical trial participants typically receive their care in the same places that the standard treatments are given -- in clinics or doctor's offices.
  • Participants will be watched closely, and data on their cases will be carefully recorded and reviewed, and compared to those of other participants in the trial. You may have extra visits in between treatments to make sure that there are no unexpected side effects.

Important Questions to Ask Before Taking Part in a Clinical Trial

Find out as much as possible about the study before you decide to participate. Here are some important questions to ask:

1. What is the purpose of the clinical trial?

2. What kinds of tests and treatments does the clinical trial involve? How are these tests given?

3. What is likely to happen in my case with, or without, this new research treatment? 

4. Are there standard treatment options for my case, and how does the study compare with them?

5. How could the clinical trial affect my daily life?

6. What side effects can I expect from the clinical trial? (Note: There can also be side effects from standard treatments and from the disease itself.)

7. How long will the clinical trial last?

8. Will the clinical trial require extra time on my part?

9. Will I have to be hospitalized? If so, how often and for how long?

10. If I agree to withdraw from the clinical trial, will my care be affected? Will I need to change doctors?

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Angela Jain on April 15, 2014
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