Breast Cancer Clinical Trials: Obstacles, Solutions, and Support for Patients
A cancer diagnosis is never easy to hear, and patient reactions can range from denial to shock and even anger.
After the emotional trauma and subsequent understanding of the diagnosis, the conversation turns to treatment. As the patient and the doctor work through the different options, clinical trials may be discussed. For many patients, the multiple challenges of finding breast cancer clinical trials can feel insurmountable, but support can be found.
Challenges for Patients and Doctors
Generally, patients with a new diagnosis have limited knowledge about treatment options and clinical trials, in particular. A steep learning curve exists for how to navigate the process. Even a patient like Roberta Albany, who had years of experience navigating the medical world, struggled to find the right answers when she needed them. A patient who is motivated to learn all that they can at the start of a diagnosis only has one trusted source of information at this point: their physician.
Depending on their experience and training, doctors can typically provide patients a wealth of information about diagnoses, treatment options, costs, and timelines. That said, details about specific clinical trials might be limited or worse, absent. This is important for patients to understand as they start their journey to treatment and recovery.
Doctors also play a crucial role in providing emotional support. Patients welcome a strong relationship with their doctor, but this can also create a challenge. The strong and trusting bond between patient and doctor can make it hard for patients to speak up, ask questions about clinical trials, or even get a second opinion. But the dynamic between a doctor and patient is such that a patient must feel the ability to ask hard questions.
This combination of limited knowledge about clinical trials and patient guilt about questioning a doctor has the potential to truly hinder the decision-making process.
Applying for clinical trials: What you might not know
Beyond the challenges created by the limited knowledge of both patients and doctors, clinical trials themselves have other obstacles. Many trial setups across the nation find it challenging to locate and connect with patients who could be potential candidates. Even after contact is made, trial managers still struggle to qualify patients because criteria can be very narrow, depending on the study.
Additionally, not every clinical trial is the same, which increases the challenges of finding breast cancer clinical trials. Even the smallest detail matters, which can be both frustrating and difficult to understand for someone outside the medical profession. One factor that might disqualify a candidate is the timing of their diagnosis. The type of cancer, the genetic makeup of the patient, and the stage of cancer can also make a difference in qualifying for a clinical trial.
Hope Can Be Found
Doctor’s awareness, nuances of clinical trials, and even the patient’s own limited knowledge of how to navigate the healthcare industry all compound to create a massive challenge. This in addition to a cancer diagnosis can cause some people to lose hope. Fortunately, there are groups ready to help patients respond to the many challenges of finding breast cancer clinical trials.
Many allies can be found in the fight against cancer. The team at Ciitizen is a tremendous partner in helping patients find a clinical trial for a breast cancer diagnosis. The support staff will help with obtaining health records and the electronic transfer of these records. Gathering and transferring records can be a significant hurdle when attempting to qualify for a clinical trial.
Another critical step in finding the right clinical trial can be getting a second opinion. Not all trials require it, but it could be a necessary step, one that can be significantly delayed if a patient doesn’t know how to navigate the system of insurance referrals, records transfer, and providing access to scans and testing results.
Ciitizen works to not only help patients access and aggregate their data but also make it actionable, even matching them with the right clinical trials for their needs. This level of expertise cannot be found from the doctor (who lacks time) or from the patient on their own (who lacks knowledge). Therefore, partnering with a support team like Ciitizen can be extremely beneficial.
There are numerous challenges of finding breast cancer clinical trials, but there is also support to empower patients. Clinical trials can be lifesaving for those who can find the right match. Hope is right around the corner.
Ciitizen is a free service that helps patients get more out of their health records. Our platform enables patients to find better treatment options and gives them the opportunity to advance the research for cures. Ready to control all of your medical records in one place? Sign up today in less than 5 minutes!