Breast Cancer: What to Know About Clinical Trials

Health Monitor Staff
More Sharing +

Clinical trials allow doctors to test the safety and effectiveness of new drugs or combinations of drugs. The goal of most trials is to yield improvements in survival, side effects and convenience, with the hope that outcomes are at least as good as standard treatments.

The decision to enroll in a trial is very personal—one you should think about carefully after discussing it with your healthcare provider. Before you decide, you should first consider the pros and cons:

The pros

  • You’ll have access to new treatments, possibly boosting your odds of success.
  • You’ll receive top-notch treatment for possibly a lower cost than standard therapy.
  • You’re likely to get extra medical attention, since the research team will need to monitor you closely.
  • Your participation may help other patients fighting the same disease.

The cons

  • You may not qualify for a trial.
  • New drugs and procedures may not be more effective than current approaches.
  • The treatment may not work for you.
  • New treatments may have unknown side effects or other risks.
  • There may be more frequent testing.
  • In certain studies, you may be assigned at random to receive either the experimental treatment or the usual treatment (known as the control group). Or you may receive a placebo (sugar pill).

To find a trial: Search at or register at, a site that matches you with appropriate trials.


May 2013