5 Common Myths about Clinical Trials and the Truths You Should Know

Over the past 40 years, breast cancer treatment has greatly improved due to lessons learned through clinical trials. Clinical trials test the safety and benefits of new treatments as well as new combinations (or new doses) of standard treatments. They can also study other parts of care including risk reduction, diagnosis and screening.

People volunteer to take part in these research studies. Those who join clinical trials help further the knowledge base that helps improve breast cancer care. Whether a new therapy or test becomes part of standard treatment for breast cancer depends largely on clinical trial results.

Did you know that clinical enrollment by adults in the U.S. is less than five percent?

And of these participants, fewer than 10 percent are members of racial or ethnic communities who often face higher breast cancer mortality rates, such as the African American community. Studies show African American women’s’ mortality rates are 41 percent higher than their Caucasian counterparts.

“…black women …reported severe side effects that led to skipping treatment. That has to play a role in the disparity of mortality rates that Black women face, and if we can develope drugs that are more tolerable for black women, then that will help us get closer to health equity. And clinical trials are a clear path to that.”
“We know clinical trials are an important key to reducing African American and Black breast health disparities to achieve health equity. In recent Komen-funded research findings, black women with hormone receptive breast cancer reported that they experienced severe side effects that led to skipping their treatment therapy at disproportionate rates. That has to play a role in the disparity of mortality rates that Black women face, and if we can help close that gap by developing drugs that are more tolerable for black women, then that will help us get closer to health equity. And clinical trials are a clear path to that.” –Lizzie Wittig, Susan G. Komen San Diego’s Director of Mission and Public Policy.

This Black History Month get to know the top 5 common myths about clinical trials:

Myth #1

“If I take part in cancer treatment trial, I might be given a placebo.”

Everyone who takes part in a cancer treatment clinical trial gets treated. You will either get the new treatment being studied or the standard treatment.

Myth #2

“Clinical trials are only for people with metastatic breast cancer.”

There are many treatment-related clinical trials for those with metastatic breast cancer. There are also many clinical trials for those with breast cancer at all stages. Breast cancer clinical trials study prevention, as well as quality of life issues.

Myth #3

“My doctor should decide if a clinical trial is right for me.”

The person who decides if a specific breast cancer trial is right for you, is YOU. Doctors should discuss the benefits and risks of clinical trials with eligible patients, but patients make the final decision. It’s a good idea to get a second opinion!

Myth #4

“Clinical trials are only available at large cancer centers.”

Clinical trials take place across the country and around the world in many types of medical centers, hospitals and clinics.

Myth #5

“If I choose to enter a breast cancer trial, I have to stay in the trial, no matter what.”

You are free to change your mind and stop participating in the trial at any time, for any reason.

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