Q. My mother has stage 4 breast cancer and I'd like to know if she would be eligible for any clinical trials.

A.

Whether or not a clinical trial would be an option for your mother will be determined by several factors. The guidelines that clinical trials follow state who will be able to join the study, based on the questions the research is trying to answer. Therefore, your mother’s type of cancer, as well as the stage of her disease, her age and whether she has received any prior treatment would be examples of some of the eligibility criteria that may come into play. I would encourage you and your mother to speak to her doctor about this important question, since only her doctor can determine whether a clinical trial would be appropriate.

To locate clinical trials that might be suitable for her, call the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Cancer Information Service at 1-800-422-6237, or you can search the NCI’s clinical trials database. If you need help using our clinical trials online search form, read Help Using the NCI Clinical Trials Search Form.

In addition, NCI’s Clinical Trials: Questions and Answers fact sheet includes information about types of clinical trials, who sponsors them, how they are conducted, how participants are protected, and who pays for the patient care costs associated with a clinical trial. It also includes some questions people might ask their health care provider before entering a clinical trial.

CancerCare’s clinical trials publications are also excellent resources.