Jen’s tumour was not well formed, smooth, defined or uniform enough – it was mixed with cyst-like tissue – so she wasn’t eligible for any clinical trials running at the time. However, we did meet and speak to patients who were having trials while we were at the chemotherapy clinic having our treatment. I hesitated to include this chapter as I felt I lacked the experience to talk about the subject matter with any authority. However, I did research trials when Jen was first diagnosed, as did the oncology team, and I have written about and included the information I collated at the time. I figure at the very least you could use it as a jumping off point.
Depending on the characteristics of your partner’s cancer, trial therapy may be available to her though it would be pure speculation on my part to discuss the eligibility as criteria differ from trial to trial over time.
Some trials run for longer than others and are usually performed in the same place as ‘normal’ chemotherapy so you and your partner would be with experienced nurses, though I think it’s a fair bet you’d be with experienced nurses no matter the location. However, I believe the trials also sometimes take place at the premises of the drug research company and potentially elsewhere too – depending on the therapy itself and any constraints it may have with regards to its distribution, storage, handling and so forth. The medicines are delivered in much the same way as the others – via tablets, injection or IV infusion.
The research I did sometimes showed a distinct overlap between drugs that are in common use in, say, the US (already cleared for use by the FDA) and drugs that are potentially going to be used in the UK. At the same time, trials can also be for drugs that have shown promise for other cancers (that is, not breast cancers specifically) but act in a very specific way on a particular cell mutation. Therefore it’s not unreasonable to think the same action won’t occur for breast cancers that have the same cellular characteristics as cancers found elsewhere in the body.
Because clinical trials are changing regularly and rapidly, any trial that is taking place at time of writing will potentially be closed by the time you read this though, because of the nature of some tests, they can run for years to establish the long-term results as well as the short and medium term. So the best advice I can offer is that you speak to your oncologist about any trials that your partner may be eligible for and, if you have time and sufficient information and understanding about your partner’s tumour characteristics, research possible trials yourself.
I found the following resources extremely useful when researching clinical trials.
Explains the clinical trial process:
Lists of clinical trials for breast cancer:
Find clinical trials: