Many women, at one time or another, consider participation in a clinical trial. No, being in a trial does not make you a guinea pig. And, no, there are no placebo arms in cancer trials--that is, no one will receive a "sugar pill". Instead, cancer trials are designed, in Phase 1 and Phase 2, to test for safety and establish dosage. In Phasee 3, the new drug is compared to an existing medication that is known to be helpful. The Phase 3 question, obviously, is whether this new drug will be even more helpful.
It is important to remember that the overwhelming majority of drugs tested in clinical trials (and this means every drug on the market in the US, not just cancer drugs) never come to the market. After exhaustive testing, the evidence usually is that it is not helpful for whatever the indicated situation may be. That is not to say that there are not true home runs--think of the first people to receice herceptin as part of a clinical trial. I have been told that the first women to receive herceptin is still alive, many years later and many years into a diagnosis of Stage IV breast cancer.
If you are considering a clinical trial, talk carefully with your doctor about what the potential benefit for you might be and why s/he is suggesting it rather than a known effective treatment. This is a website that was designed for individuals who are considering breast cancer clinical trials:
Welcome to BreastCancerTrials.org
BreastCancerTrials.org was developed specifically for women and men interested in breast cancer trials. On our website you can:
- Learn about the benefits of taking part in a clinical trial, and the questions to ask before you do.
- Use our trial matching service to find trials that might be right for you. Contact research sites through our unique messaging service.
Browse trials with BCT Quickviews