Above all, we make a difference.

Clinical Trials We Are Funding

Duric-UST-3.2.4Clinical trials are one of the final stages of a long and careful cancer research process. They can only take place after satisfactory information has been gathered from laboratory research, including cell cultures and animal models. Even the most promising scientific findings must first be proven to be safe and effective in clinical trials before they can be used as standard treatment. The cancer treatments that are used today were developed and tested in clinical trials. Through our research grants, we have supported more than 500 clinical trials.

Our trials examine a broad range of areas:

  • Identifying the causes of breast cancer
  • New approaches to cancer prevention, including preventative drugs, nutritional approaches and changes in lifestyle and behavior
  • New methods for early detection, screening and diagnosis of breast cancer including new technologies like ultrasound tomography and blood tests that measure biomarkers
  • New approaches to surgery and radiation therapy
  • New anticancer drugs for breast cancer, including chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy agents 
  • New combinations of treatments 
  • Complementary and alternative cancer therapies 
  • Supportive care to understand the impact and identify the needs breast cancer patients and their families, and test new approaches for communicating about breast health 
  • Quality of life studies for alleviating side-effects of breast cancer treatment

Learn more about what Komen is doing to help people with any stage of breast cancer find and participate in clinical trials.

We support clinical trials in all areas of the breast cancer research continuum, from prevention and early detection, to diagnostic, treatment and survivorship trials. 

There are several types of clinical trials: 

Treatment trials

Breast cancer treatment trials test new treatments, such as a new cancer drug, new approaches to surgery or radiation therapy, new combinations of treatments or new methods such as gene therapy or cancer vaccines.  

Prevention trials

Breast cancer prevention trials test new approaches, such as medicines, vitamins or lifestyle interventions that may lower the risk of cancer. These trials look for the best way to prevent cancer in people who have never had cancer or to prevent cancer from coming back in people who have already had cancer. 

Screening trials 

Breast cancer screening trials test the best way to detect cancer, especially in its early stages. In some cancers, finding cancer early can improve the results of treatment and increase the chances of survival. Screening trials may study new medical imaging methods or a new type of blood test, called biomarkers, which would detect cancer clues. 

Diagnostic trials

Breast cancer diagnostic trials test new ways of differentiating between different subtypes of cancer, predicting the outcome of a particular cancer, or predicting whether a cancer will respond to a specific therapy. Like screening trials, diagnostic trials may study new medical imaging methods or biomarkers.

Quality of life trials 

Quality of life trials (also called Supportive Care trials) explore ways to improve comfort and quality of life for cancer patients and survivors. These trials may look at better ways to prevent or manage nausea, fatigue, depression, pain or other problems caused by cancer or its treatment. They may also test methods for communicating or educating people about breast cancer and breast health.

Risk assessment – causes of breast cancer

In these types of trials, there is generally no intervention. Researchers only observe groups of people or collect information from them to determine who may be at increased risk for breast cancer, to identify the causes of breast cancer or to identify lifestyle factors that may contribute to breast cancer risk.

Most clinical research progresses through an orderly series of steps, called phases. This allows researchers to ask and answer questions in a way that results in reliable information, yet protects patients. Most clinical trials are classified into one of three phases:

Phase I trials

These first studies in people evaluate how a new drug should be given (by mouth, injected into the blood, or injected into the muscle), how often and what dose is safe. A phase I trial usually enrolls only a small number of patients.

Phase II trials

A phase II trial continues to test the safety of the drug, and begins to evaluate how well the new drug works. 

Phase III trials

These studies test a new drug, a new combination of drugs or a new surgical procedure in comparison to the current standard. A participant will usually be assigned to the standard group or the new group at random (called randomization). Phase III trials often enroll large numbers of people and may be conducted at doctors’ offices, clinics and cancer centers nationwide.

Phase IV trials

After a treatment has been approved and is being marketed, the drug’s maker may study it further in a phase IV trial. The purpose of phase IV trials is to evaluate the side effects, risks and benefits of a drug over a longer period of time and in a larger number of people than in phase III clinical trials. Thousands of people are involved in a phase IV trial.

Clinical trials offer a way for women with breast cancer to play an active role in their own health care, gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available, obtain expert medical care at leading health care facilities during the trial and help others by contributing to medical research.

Learn more about the benefits to participating in clinical trials.

If you‘re thinking about taking part in a clinical trial, it’s important to be informed and ask the right questions. Before joining a clinical trial, talk to the research coordinator, nurse or physician from the study. This person can answer your questions and discuss any concerns you may have. You may want to take a friend or family member with you to help ask questions, take notes and give you support.  

For more information and some questions you might want to ask, download one of our “Questions to Ask Your Doctor” discussion guides

If you and your health care provider decide a clinical trial is a good option for you, your provider should put you in touch with a research nurse or coordinator from the trial. This person will guide you through the enrollment process. You can also visit resources like breastcancertrials.org to find the trial that’s right for you.

How We Fund Research

Learn more about how Komen awards scientific research grants.


Research Accomplishments

With your help, Komen researchers are making a difference.


Bringing the Patient Voice to Research

Breast cancer survivors and advocates are involved in our scientific research.



Give For Metastatic Breast Cancer Research

Donate Now

Everything You Do Makes a Difference

Discover the different ways you can help

Get Involved