Why Clinical Trials are Critical in Fighting Breast Cancer
PRA Health Sciences
PRA Health Sciences

PRA is once again a proud sponsor of the 2018 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on Saturday, May 5. Come out and support breast cancer survivors and help raise money for a worthy cause! Visit our team page here.

Why are clinical trials so important for breast cancer research? Susan Brown, M.S., R.N., Senior Director of Education and Patient Support at Susan G. Komen, explains:

Why are clinical trials important for breast cancer research?

They are critical because without clinical trials we will never know any more about breast cancer – how to detect it or treat it – than we do today. Whether a new therapy or test becomes part of standard treatment for breast cancer depends largely depends on these results.

What are some of the treatments studied recently in clinical trials?

This is exciting time in breast cancer research. Many new treatments for breast cancer are currently under study. Most of these are drug therapies. They include new classes of drugs, such as Tyrosine-kinase inhibitors, PARP inhibitors, CDK4,/6 inhibitors – and combinations of drugs, including hormone therapies.

Trials are underway looking at different ways to deliver radiation therapy and learning more about patient selection for these different approaches to delivery. We are funding research to help us understand metastatic breast cancer – how to find it, or maybe one day prevent it – and to treat it. This is important since metastatic breast cancer is responsible for essentially all of the more than 40,000 deaths from breast cancer in the U.S. alone each year. Research is ongoing to improve all areas of treatment for breast cancer.

What are some of the challenges faced in breast cancer research that are addressed through clinical research?

Recruitment to trials due to lack of knowledge about trials and myths and misconceptions related to clinical trials; underrepresentation of women of color and men in trials; and clinical trial enrollment of adults in the U.S. Enrollment is less than five percent – and of those participants, fewer than 10 percent are members of racial and ethnic communities where breast cancer mortality rates are higher.

What challenges would researchers face without clinical trials?

Without clinical trials, there would be no path to new treatments; researchers’ questions would go unanswered; and studies would be confined to the lab with cell lines and animal models – and we know there are many differences between animals and people that make it hard to translate findings from the lab to people. Also, we would not learn anything more than we know today about breast cancer – how to reduce the risk of breast cancer, detect it, or treat it.

What would you say to someone considering entering a clinical trial?

  • Ask about a clinical trial as an option for treatment when you talk with your doctor
  • Ask whether you are eligible for clinical trials. If there are trials available to you, ask questions to learn exactly what is involved
  • Shared decision making is important – your physician should be a trusted partner (with shared decision making)
  • Learn what you can about clinical trials. Call the Susan G. Komen® Clinical Trial Information Helpline (1 877-465-6636) or connect with others participating (or considering participating) in a clinical trial via Komen’s message boards
  • Clinical trials offer the chance to try new treatments and possibly benefit from them. You will be paving a new path for new treatments.
  • Clinical trial participants are heroes and stand on the shoulders of people that have gone before them. You may not only benefit, but others will benefit from your participation.
  • Some clinical trials compare a new treatment to the standard of care. So, not everyone in the trial gets the new treatment. However, even those who don’t get the new treatment will still get the standard treatment, just as they would if they didn’t join the trial.