Question from Becky Swick: Hello my name is Becky Swick. I'm a six-year breast cancer survivor and my question is in regards to clinical trials. How important are they in the area of breast cancer research and how do you get involved in those?
b>Response from Len Lichtenfeld, M.D., American Cancer Society: There's no question that clinical trials are very important in advancing our knowledge about breast cancer treatment. None of the advances we have made would have happened without clinical trials. So it's important that you be aware that clinical trials are an option at every stage of the disease. Even from questions about prevention for the disease all the way up to treating the disease after it may have recurred.
The way you find out about clinical trials is to, number one, talk to your doctor. Your doctor should know what clinical trials are available in your area, and especially if you're being treated at a cancer center that has access to many of the current trials, even some that are trying brand new treatments. Another option is to get in touch with an organization like the American Cancer Society. We have information specialists who are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week -- and they are able to actually check on what clinical trials are available.
And then there are websites, both the American Cancer Society website at cancer.org, and the National Cancer Institute website at cancer.gov. Both of these sites maintain lists of clinical trials that you may be eligible to participate in. But the first step is yours, between you and your doctor, to ask the question, "Am I a candidate for a clinical trial to treat my breast cancer?"