Are you looking for clinical trials for breast cancer? Buckle up: There are more than 11,000 of them listed on the official website, ClinicalTrials.gov. But you can smooth it out to the ones that suit you best.
Here’s a look at the studies that are happening – and how to find one you can join.
Directions you should know
With thousands of studies still going on, here’s a quick look at some of the topics that are still emerging. Your doctor can help you figure out what might apply to you.
Immunotherapy and targeted therapies. Not all breast cancers are created equal. Targeted therapies are designed for specific types of cancer.
Says Sarah Horvitz, MD, director of the Breast Cancer Clinical Trials Program at UCLA Health.
Immunotherapy focuses on tumors with specific genetic markers. It is studied in many different types of cancer, including breast cancer.
radiation. Researchers are studying new methods of radiation for early, lower-risk breast cancer.
“There are trials now being done to see if less radiation can be given in a shorter period of time to some patients who have a lower risk of early-stage breast cancer,” Horvitz says.
Skipping surgery? Other trials are examining whether certain breast cancer treatments can help patients skip surgery altogether, Horvitz says.
“Researchers wonder: If a tumor responded beautifully to chemotherapy or medicine and completely disappeared based on preoperative imaging, could we omit surgery at all?” asks Horvitz.
Fourth stage treatments. Another study focuses on treating stage IV breast cancers fueled by hormones, such as estrogen receptor-positive and progesterone receptor-positive tumors. Researchers are looking at combinations of treatments.
We currently have one trial trying to figure out the best anti-estrogen [medication] says Gina Folas Reed, MD, a medical oncologist and partner with Georgia Cancer Specialists, affiliated with the Northside Cancer Institute at Northside Hospital. “Our goal is to keep people with these cancers off chemotherapy.”
Ask your oncologist
Tell your oncologist that you are interested in a clinical trial. Ask them to help you find one.
“Medical oncologists are usually in close contact with research and what’s happening in the research world,” Horvitz agrees.
“The first thing you should ask at your first medical oncologist appointment is, ‘Do you participate in clinical trials?'” says Volas-Redd. “
If the answer is no, she says, it may be time to find a new oncologist.
“You want your doctor to be aware of all aspects of care and beyond,” she says. “Clinical trials bring new drug testing, new targeted therapies, and new combinations from what we already have. It really pushes things further so you know you’re getting the best quality care.”
Select your search
You can search for specific experiences using keywords to filter the experiences that best suit you in ClinicalTrials.gov.
For example, if you are searching for chemotherapy trials for stage 1 breast cancer, you could type:
- Breast cancer stage 1 is in the “condition or disease” category.
- “Chemotherapy” in the “Other Terms” box
- “United States” in the country box
- your state
- your city
- How far are you willing to travel?
Click “Search”. Filter the results of experiments that are recruiting or enrolling by invitation. This way, you only see experiences that you can actually try to join right now.
“There will not be a clinical trial for everyone diagnosed, but everyone diagnosed should inquire if there is an ongoing clinical trial for which they may be eligible,” Horvitz says. “This is how we improve the treatment of this disease and improve the chances of recovery or survival … by conducting the scientific trial to demonstrate the success of this intervention.”