If you’ve been diagnosed with stage IV or metastatic breast cancer (BC), it’s important to consider enrolling in a clinical trial based on your specific type. If you’ve received standard of care for your metastatic BC (MBC) and have developed resistance to your first, second, or even third line of treatment, metastatic breast cancer clinical trials may be your best option.
In the past, many BC clinical trials had restrictive criteria, excluding those who received extensive pretreatment with different chemotherapeutic or targeted agents and/or those who had developed brain metastases.
However, the good news is that this is changing. An increasing number of clinical trials include—or are even specifically dedicated to—investigating safe and effective treatments for MBC patients. Inclusion criteria (rather than exclusion criteria) may denote the presence of metastases in specific body locations. For example, a particular agent or treatment may be under investigation for BC patients with brain metastases, whereas another study may be investigating an agent for BC patients with bone metastases.
What information should I have in hand when searching for metastatic breast cancer clinical trials?
Understanding the need to have all your medical records in hand is critical before you begin your search for clinical trials that are appropriate for you. Although gathering all your medical records may seem like an overwhelming task, it doesn’t need to be. The organization and online platform, Ciitizen, can do all the heavy lifting for you, collecting all of your medical records and digitizing them for free, every step of the way. You’ll have all the necessary specifics available regarding your BC type to identify trials that are right for you.
What specific information will I need from my medical records to effectively search for metastatic breast cancer clinical trials?
You’ll need to consider the following:
- Breast cancer type is determined by specific breast cell types, such as invasive ductal carcinoma, where BC tumors form in cells lining tissues and organs (epithelial cells), or invasive lobular carcinoma, where tumors form in cells in the milk ducts or milk-producing glands (lobules).
- BC stage means how large the breast tumor is and how far it has spread in the body. BC stages include Stages 1, 2, 3, and 4. Stage 3 BCs are considered advanced, and Stage 4 indicates metastatic BC. Some refer to ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) as stage 0 BC, a non-invasive cancer where atypical cells have developed in the breast milk duct lining but have not spread into the ducts or lobules in surrounding breast tissue.
- BC grade categorizes how much the cancer cells resemble normal cells, essential for predicting prognosis and determining which treatments may be most beneficial. Grade 1 BC indicates a well-differentiated, slow-growing cancer with cells that appear most like normal breast tissue. Grade 2 BC cells are moderately differentiated, growing at a moderately increased rate, and are less normal in appearance than Grade 1 BCs. Grade 3 BCs cells are poorly differentiated cells that appear significantly unlike normal breast cells and are at higher risk for abnormally rapid growth and metastasis.
- BC hormone receptor status indicates whether BC cells removed during surgery or biopsy have tested positive or negative for estrogen or progesterone receptors. If estrogen (ER) and/or progesterone (PR) receptors are present, these hormones promote cancer growth. Identifying hormonal status is crucial in determining appropriate and effective treatments and whether a BC patient can participate in specific trials.
- HER2-neu status indicates whether BCs are HER2+, with abnormally high levels of the growth-promoting protein, HER2, on the surface of breast cells. HER2+ BCs tend to grow and spread aggressively but may be effectively treated with HER2 targeted agents.
- Biomarkers testing results show predictive and prognostic values, providing further information regarding BC complexity and diversity (i.e., heterogeneity) and in identifying optimal targeted therapies for certain BC subtypes.
- Genomic sequencing test results determine the genetic makeup of cancer cells. Clinical trials are increasingly investigating whether specific agents safely and effectively treat cancer based on such specific genetic changes, regardless of cancer type.
Where can I locate metastatic breast cancer clinical trial listings?
Ciitizen offers a completely free clinical trial matching service for advanced and metastatic BC patients, partnering with the world’s largest clinical research organization, IQVIA, to help you find personalized clinical trial options. They’ll ask you to share a summary of your medical information, and they will use this critical data to match you to relevant trials.
There are also several reputable websites that provide information about specific clinical trials open for patient accrual. Many of these sites enable you to select key facts about your BC, helping you locate clinical trials appropriate for your specific cancer.
Although not an all-inclusive list, such websites include the following:
- Metastatic Breast Cancer Trial Search is offered by Breastcancer.org, a nonprofit organization.
- TrialJectory uses advanced artificial intelligence algorithms to search governmental databases and industry publications to provide current, personalized matches for cancer patients.
- ClinicalTrials.gov is the National Institutes of Health’s database of clinical trials.
- National Cancer Institute (NCI) Supported Clinical Trials are sponsored or otherwise financially supported by the NCI.
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 get your medical records in order? Get started today!