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Is a Breast Cancer Clinical Trial Right for You?

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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.

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.
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