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Should I consider a clinical trial?
What are clinical trials?

Clinical trials are research studies in volunteer patients. 
They look at whether a new treatment is effective, well tolerated, and possibly better than other treatments for that condition. Your doctor may suggest that you take part in a clinical trial to gain access to a new cancer drug that is being tested for your type of breast cancer. 

Not everyone is eligible for a clinical trial. You can ask your oncologist about the role of cancer research trials in your treatment plan at any time.

What are the benefits of participating in a clinical trial?

It gives you the chance to try a new drug that has not yet been approved for use, but may have the potential to prolong your life or improve the quality of your life.

You may be helping yourself, and you are definitely helping others with breast cancer by contributing to the field of cancer research when you participate in a trial.

There is no treatment cost involved in joining a clinical trial.

What are the possible drawbacks?

Clinical trials usually require people to have extra blood tests, imaging examinations and questionnaires. This can take up your time.

If you are participating in a randomised trial, you may receive either the drug under study or the current standard treatment. The purpose of the trial is to compare the efficacy (how well the treatment works) and tolerability of these treatments (the amount and severity of side effects). 
Which one you will receive is determined in effect by “flipping a coin.”

If you are receiving the new drug being studied, there is no guarantee that what you are being given is well tolerated or that it works better than available treatments. 
This is what the clinical trial is trying to find out. However, the trial has been approved by the authorities in your country and by the local ethics committee responsible for your doctor’s practice. These processes help to ensure that the new treatments in the trial are safe and effective enough to be tested in the trial.

Questions to ask if you are considering joining a clinical trial

It is very important for you to find out as much about a given clinical trial as possible before joining. You will be given a printed version of the information about the trial, and asked to give your consent to participate. 

In addition, be sure to ask your care team all the questions you have about the trial before joining. You can raise these questions at any time – even after the trial has started.

Be aware that you can leave the trial at any time after joining. However, if you are thinking about leaving the trial, you should discuss your decision with your doctor first.

  • What is the purpose of the study?
  • How long will the study last?
  • What are my responsibilities if I participate?
  • What are my possible benefits?
  • What are my risks, such as side effects?
  • What kinds of therapies, procedures and/or tests will I have during the trial?
  • Will I be able to take my regular medications while in the clinical trial?
  • Where will I have my medical care?
  • Who will be in charge of my care?
  • How could being in this study affect my daily life?
  • Can I talk to other people in the study?
  • Will I have to pay for any part of the trial?
  • Will there be any travel or childcare costs that I need to consider while I am in the trial?
  • Can I leave the study at any time?