Entering a breast cancer clinical trial is not a decision you should make lightly. You may want to talk to your friends and family members about your treatment options. Your health care provider or the research site may be able to provide you with additional information that can help you make your decision. Some of your friends or family members may think that you should just do what your doctor says. Others may try to persuade you to not take part because they have heard so many myths about clinical trials. And still others may persuade you to take part because they were in a clinical trial and had a good experience. Ultimately, though, after gathering all of the information and reviewing your options, only you can decide if now is the right time to take part in a trial, or if a specific trial is right for you. Making your decision will be easier if you:
Know as much as you possibly can about the breast cancer trial and if it is a treatment trial, the new breast cancer treatments being studied. You should be able to explain to others precisely what will happen, what the risks and benefits are, and any costs for which you might be responsible. To see questions you may want to ask before you sign up, you can review Questions for Doctors and Questions for Researchers.
You should also receive a document that outlines your Bill of Rights as a volunteer. You can see the Bill of Rights developed by the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation here.
However, there is no guarantee that these new breast cancer treatments or procedures will be better than those that are already the standard of care. There also are potential risks, such as serious or even life-threatening side effects. In addition, enrolling in a clinical trial can take up more of your time, since it may involve more trips to the study site or require that, for example, you maintain a log about certain daily activities.Taking part in a clinical trial is not for everyone. But those who have taken part often say doing so gave them an opportunity to play a more active role in their own healthcare. And, whether or not they benefitted personally, clinical trial participants routinely say that they were proud to take part in research that would collectively benefit our efforts to improve breast cancer care.