Feature Archive

Clinical Trials for Breast Cancer

Should you or shouldn't you? Weighing the pros and cons of joining a breast cancer clinical trial.

By Gina Shaw
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson

Only about 3% of women with breast cancer take part in clinical trials, according to Y-ME, the national breast cancer organization.

This low level of clinical research participation may be stalling treatment progress. The fewer women who join clinical trials, the longer it takes to get data about whether a new treatment is an improvement over existing ones.

Should you join a breast cancer clinical trial? If you do, how can you choose the best one for you?

"Patients should be biased toward clinical trials," says Clifford Hudis, MD, Chief of the Breast Cancer Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. "If you [are seen at a medical] center and they have a trial for which you're appropriate, you should seriously consider it."

What are the advantages of participating in a clinical trial?

  • You'll have access to the latest treatments before they're widely available. "Your list of available treatment options is finite, and clinical trials will sometimes represent options that don't exist outside the trial," says Hudis.
  • You'll receive expert care and close monitoring. Although all women with breast cancer are monitored closely, clinical trial members are likely to receive an even higher level of scrutiny.
  • You'll be contributing to the advancement of medical research that may benefit not only you, but many other women -- maybe even your own daughters and granddaughters.