Clinical Trials for People with Metastatic Breast Cancer
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Many new treatments for metastatic breast cancer are under study. Most of these are drug therapies.
Why should I consider joining a clinical trial?
A clinical trial offers you the chance to try a new treatment and possibly benefit from it. Learning whether a new drug is better than standard treatment can also help others.
Findings from clinical trials determine whether or not new treatments will become a part of the standard of care for metastatic breast cancer. Some treatments may even go on to be used to treat early-stage breast cancer or other types of cancer.
Some clinical trials compare a new treatment to standard treatment. So, not everyone in the trial gets the new treatment. However, even those who don’t get the new treatment still get the standard treatment, just as they would if they didn’t join the trial.
Talk with your oncologist about clinical trials. Remember, like all aspects of cancer care, the decision to join a clinical trial is a personal one. Even if you decide not to join a clinical trial now, it doesn’t mean you can’t join one later if you’re eligible.
Lajos Pusztai, M.D., D. Phil.
“Clinical trials provide a chance to receive tomorrow’s therapies today.”
When to consider joining a clinical trial
If you’ve been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, consider joining a clinical trial before starting treatment for metastatic breast cancer, when your oncologist is considering changing treatments, or when there are limited treatment options.
Will I get a placebo?
A placebo is an inactive substance sometimes used to have a comparison to a drug in a clinical trial. Some people call this a “sugar pill.”
In breast cancer treatment clinical trials, you never get a placebo instead of standard treatment. However, sometimes, you may get the standard treatment plus a placebo rather than the standard treatment plus the new treatment that’s being studied.
Most often, you’ll get either the new treatment or the standard treatment. So, even if you don’t get the new drug (or other new therapy), your breast cancer will be treated the same as if you weren’t in the trial.
Where to find a clinical trial
Some clinical trials are done in one, or only a few, medical centers. Others are done in many places across the country.
There may not be a clinical trial that’s right for you in your area. So, you may have to travel if you want to join.
If your medical center doesn’t offer clinical trials, your oncologist can refer you to a cancer center that does.
Susan G. Komen® Breast Care Helpline
The helpline offers metastatic breast cancer clinical trial education and support, such as:
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Metastatic Trial Search
What is Susan G. Komen® doing?
Susan G. Komen® supported the Reagan-Udall Foundation and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the development of the Expanded Access Navigator website.
Expanded Access (EA) is also known as “compassionate use.” It gives patients access to drugs before they have FDA approval. This may be needed when patients have no other treatment options and are not eligible for (or unable to participate in) a clinical trial.
The EA Navigator tool serves as a clearinghouse of information and resources to help patients and their doctors more easily access information that could impact treatment decisions. The EA Navigator explains what EA is, who may be eligible, how the request process works, as well as the regulatory and policy issues around EA.
The EA Navigator also contains pharmaceutical companies’ EA policies. The open EA programs are listed on the National Institutes of Health’s clinical trials website, www.clinicaltrials.gov.