Major drug companies are always researching and developing new breast cancer treatments. But the treatments must be shown to be safe and effective before doctors can prescribe them. Through clinical trials, researchers test the effects of new medications on a group of volunteers with breast cancer.
Following strict guidelines and using carefully controlled conditions, researchers test these drugs for their ability to treat breast cancer, their safety, and any potential side effects.
Some patients don't want to take part in clinical trials out of fear of getting no treatment at all. This fear is misguided. People who join clinical trials receive the most effective treatments available for their condition -- the same treatments they would get at a local cancer center -- or they may get new treatments being tested. These drugs may be even more effective than the current treatment. Comparing them head to head is the only way to find out.
Rarely does a patient receive no treatment at all in a clinical trial. For example, if a patient is in a situation where the best existing treatment is no treatment at all, a clinical trial may compare a "no treatment" group with a new treatment. Everyone gets at least the treatment they would receive from their regular cancer doctor, and possibly a new one.
The following web sites offer information to help you find a breast cancer clinical trial that is right for you.
This web site, which contains the TrialCheck database from the nonprofit Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups, is an unbiased cancer clinical trial matching service. It lets patients search for cancer trials based on their disease and location.
American Cancer Society Clinical Trials Matching service, in partnership with eviti, Inc., also helps people find high-quality clinical trials. You may also get information by calling 800-303-5691.
This web site lists more than 12,000 cancer clinical trials (most government-funded studies and some private ones) and explains what to do when you find one that you think is right for you.
This web site offers up-to-date information for locating federally and privately supported clinical trials for cancer.
This web site lists industry-sponsored clinical trials that are actively recruiting patients.