Would you consider taking part in a clinical trial?
Clinical trials aim to discover new or better cancer treatments and care. Some clinical trials test drugs, while others test treatments such as radiotherapy and surgery. Clinical trials can also investigate the emotional and physical side effects of breast cancer and its treatment.
Benefits of participating
There is absolutely no obligation to participate in a clinical trial. If you do chose to take part, you are free to leave the trial at any time. Typical benefits of taking part include:
- Potential access to a new type of treatment.
- An excellent standard of care. You will be closely monitored by leading doctors, research nurses and other experts.
- Research shows that patients treated in clinical trials usually fare better than those who are not involved.
- You will be helping researchers develop new treatments for breast cancer that will help women in the future.
Some women worry that they will not receive treatment if they are allocated to a control group. In research, a control group is the group that provides a comparison by not receiving the new treatment. However, all clinical trials are very carefully regulated to ensure that all patients receive at least the level of treatment they would have received had they not participated in the trial.
Things you might like to consider in deciding whether or not to partipicate in a trial include:
- There may be side effects which you find difficult to manage (in which case you can leave the trial).
- You may need to set aside extra time for appointments.
- There may be out-of-pocket costs or you might need to travel further for your treatment if your usual doctor is not participating in the trial.
How to get involved
In order to take part in a clinical trial, you first need to be eligible. Depending on the trial, criteria such as your age, type of cancer, stage of cancer, previous treatment and any other medical issues will be taken into account. Using certain complementary or alternative medicines may mean you cannot participate in some clinical trials.
Clinical trials are run through public and private hospitals. If you are interested in taking part, you can ask your medical oncologist if they know of any that might suit you.
- Clinical trials for women who have completed active treatment
- BCNA's clinical trials fact sheet looks at why we need clinical trials, who runs them, how patients are protected and how you can get involved.
- BCNA's position statement on clinical trials.
- Read the Cancer Council’s comprehensive booklet 'Understanding Clinical Trials and Research: a guide for people affected by cancer'.
- Visit the Australian Government's Australian Clinical Trials website, or the Australian New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group or the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry websites to search for current trials into breast cancer
- For those who live in Victoria, the Victorian Cancer Trials Link (VCTL) site allows you to search all cancer clinical trials being conducted in Victoria.