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Is a Breast Cancer Clinical Trial Right for You?


What Happens if I Join a Breast Cancer Clinical Trial? continued...

You will be given an informed consent form to read and consider carefully. Before signing, be sure you find out as much as possible about the clinical trial, including what risks you may face. Ask the physician or nurse to explain parts of the form or the trial that are not clear. (See the section, "Important Questions to Ask.")

You are free to decide whether or not you want to take part in the trial. If you decide to participate, you will sign the consent form. If you do not want to participate in the trial, you may refuse. If you choose not to participate in the trial, 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.

Who Can Participate in a Breast Cancer Clinical Trial?

Every breast cancer clinical trial is designed to meet a specific set of research criteria. Each study 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 in a Breast Cancer Clinical Trial?

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 of patients who are thinking about participating in a clinical trial.

Even though there are always going to be fears of the unknown, understanding what is involved in a clinical trial before agreeing to participate can relieve some of your anxieties. Here's some information that may help ease your concerns:

  • The personal information gathered about you during the clinical 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.
  • Clinical trial participants will be watched closely, and data on their case will be carefully recorded and reviewed and compared to that of other participants in the trial.

Important Questions to Ask Before Taking Part in a Breast Cancer Clinical Trial

If you are thinking about taking part in a breast cancer 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?




WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Arnold Wax, MD on May 18, 2013
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