Is a clinical trial right for you?

are you scared to death you're in a bubble you can't breathe you don't hear anything you think you're gonna die you're gasping for air Kris was reeling from the shock of a cancer diagnosis when a doctor suggested she go in a clinical trial for breast cancer I thought breast cancer was garden-variety I thought everybody had the same breast cancer I didn't know what a clinical trial is now I know not only is there one clinical trial there's hundreds there's thousands women faced with the breast cancer diagnosis have a lot of choices to make some women like Chris decide to go on a clinical trial clinical trials are important because this is how we improve on what we have this is how we discover new drugs that help treat women with cancer drugs like tamoxifen which is a drug that saved thousands and thousands of women came about because of women participating in clinical trials many years ago doctors and researchers are working hard to come up with better drugs surgeries and radiation treatments to fight cancer patients can sometimes benefit from these new treatments and help in the discovery of new ones by joining a cancer research study or a clinical trial what's exciting about breast cancer is that we have drugs that are currently available today as well as radiation techniques and surgical techniques that weren't used as recently as two or three years ago and all of these things have led to significant improvements in the care of the breast cancer patients higher cure rates and less side-effects cancer clinical trials test new ways to treat cancer to manage symptoms of cancer or side effects from treatment clinical trials help researchers find out if new treatments are safe and work better than current treatments when you take part in a clinical trial you help make cancer care better when I was diagnosed with breast cancer believe it or not I didn't know anybody with breast cancer now I know a world of women with breast cancer but I had to look at it as a whole if it's not going to do me any good maybe it's going to do somebody else some good down the road Chris decided that a clinical trial not only gave her the best treatment option available but also could help other breast cancer patients there's many reasons that women may want to enroll in a clinical trial one of the reasons is that you're helping to develop a drug that's going to be available for future generations that can help treat breast cancer better another reason is that you get access to a drug that you otherwise would not have been able to use and finally you get very closely followed on a clinical trial you have a tight care team that's watching you closely to make sure that you're tolerating the drug and not having side effects everyone who signs up for a clinical trial receives a detailed informed consent form that spells out the drugs procedures and tests they may get in the trial they're given time to ask questions and review it before they sign it it's all spell out and you get to take the papers home with you so you can read them and reread them over and over and over again because that's what you do and it tells you everything you need to know and even after signing it you can opt out women who decide that they do want to enroll in a clinical trial might decide later that this isn't the right fit for them they have the freedom at any point to decide to come off of the trial and continue to get treated by their team in some clinical trials patients are put into groups that get different treatments the way people are placed into a group is called randomisation randomisation is like the flip of a coin the possibility of getting heads is the same as the possibility of getting tails one group gets the new treatment the other group gets the same medicines and treatments they would get if they did not join a clinical trial both groups get treatment for their cancer since being put into a treatment group is like flipping a coin doctors are able to learn which treatment is really the best the regular medicine or the new one I just wanted to make sure that I was getting actual drugs I didn't want to come in thinking that I wasn't going to get a real drug and that I was just going to be filled with water so that was my big concern women often have can about what kind of treatment they're receiving on a clinical trial and if they're receiving a placebo treatment it's important to understand that everyone is getting treated on a clinical trial some women may be receiving a drug that we routinely use other women may be receiving the new drug that we're trying to learn more about but everyone is getting treated when you're on a clinical trial you are watched very closely by a whole care team including your doctors nurses and research coordinator they will check on you constantly to see how you are responding to treatment and how you were feeling overall they all made my body and to me that's great it's a time commitment but I felt like I had more security that way I'm going through cancer treatment I want as many people checking me out as possible one of the greatest benefits I think of patients being on a clinical trial is that they get another person on their team someone in their corner someone supporting them someone checking up on them a primary contact we actually give them our phone number that they can call us they're not getting a recording they can get us directly so I think that makes a lot of patients comfortable more comfortable about going on a clinical trial that they have more people on their team I never felt like a guinea pig my research coordinator Edith would come and hang out with me she'd come check up on me take notes and then we chat the decision to go on a clinical trial is a personal one and women should not feel pressured about it doctors and their staffs urge patients to ask questions and bring family or friends into the discussions this is a complicated decision and you should take time to ask questions of your physician of the research coordinators and also to review all of this information with your family you should also get the opinion of the family members because they're the ones there night and day taking care of the patients so we definitely like to encourage them to speak up to ask questions to give their opinion to be as involved as possible they said cancer nobody in my family has cancer I'm the only person in my family cancer I thought it was going to die if I had a recurrence today I would go right back into a clinical trial without even hesitating

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