What Should You Know Before Participating in a Breast Cancer Clinical Trial?
What Should You Know Before Participating in a Breast Cancer Clinical Trial? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.
Is there a point in a patient’s breast cancer care when a clinical trial should be considered? Breast cancer expert Dr. Bhuvaneswari Ramaswamy shares her perspective.
Dr. Bhuvaneswari Ramaswamy is the Section Chief of Breast Medical Oncology and the Director of the Medical Oncology Fellowship Program in Breast Cancer at The Ohio State College of Medicine. Learn more about Dr. Ramaswamy.
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Well, what questions should patients ask their team before they even begin a clinical trial?
I think most important thing, and in – and usually, a doctor would – should really explain this to you, particularly if it’s a little bit of a complex study with a paper and pen. They need to tell you if this is two arms, that you may be randomized into this arm versus this arm. So, what you need to understand is what are the drugs and what are the differences between these two arms? Whether you go into this arm or this arm, are you going to be compromised with your outcomes? And that is important to understand. And now certain arms may have a little bit more blood draws or scans. And so it’s important to understand what it means, what commitment of your time and other things that goes on with different treatments.
So, again, these are important for you to understand. Also, it’s important for you to know what is that experimental drug? What is that new drug? Right? And what data do they have from the past about this drug? Has it been tried in humans before or is this the first in the human study? And what does a target, why is it used in my cancer? How do you think it’s going to work? And what are the side effects that comes with this experimental drug? Mm-hmm. I think for you, the most important thing is to understand what is your commitment because the commitment during clinical trials can increase a little bit. You may have to come in, stay a bit longer to kind of check the drug levels in your body, in your blood, or do more testings, blood draws, and things like that.
Are you willing to do that? That’s something for you to answer. Don’t feel that you need to do this for some reason other than it fits your life and it fits your philosophy, okay? But also don’t push it away thinking that just because you don’t know enough and you’ve heard things from outside, it’s important for you to hear it from your providers and understand it clearly and then make a decision that’s right for you.