Advancements in Treating Breast Cancer Start in Clinical Trials


Every treatment available today in the fight against cancer is based on past clinical trials. It is no different in our fight against breast cancer.

One in eight women will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. When that one is you, you want to make sure that you have access to every treatment available—including the latest clinical trials.

Doctors and researchers are always looking for better ways to care for patients with breast cancer, whether it be trying to cure breast cancer or dealing with side effects of treatment. In fact, every new drug that is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was tested in clinical trials first.

“Literally every treatment option we discuss with a patient has been based on a clinical trial,” said Dr. Michael Guenther, Clinical Director of the Breast Program at St. Elizabeth Healthcare. “Each improvement in treating breast cancer has been subjected to an analysis. So when researchers and physicians think they have a better idea, we compare that treatment with what we’ve always done and see which one of those ends up having a better outcome for patients.”

We tend to associate clinical trials with desperate situations – that you’ve run out of options and all other treatments have failed. That is no longer the case in the treatment of cancers.

“What we offer patients is really the best care we have today compared with what we think might be our best care tomorrow and see which one of those in fact turns out to be best,“ added Dr. Guenther when discussing how breast cancer patients are cared for at St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

Dr. Guenther added, “Clinical trials teach us if a new treatment is safe and effective or is a better treatment then the treatment doctors use today to treat breast cancer—new drugs, new combination of treatments, new radiation or surgical treatments.”

Enrolling in a clinical trial

At St. Elizabeth Healthcare, every patient treated for breast cancer is screened before they even come to the office. Research nurses review your medical record and look for eligibility for any open clinical trials prior to your first appointment.

“We have a menu of trials that are available, and we are adding more on a weekly basis,” Dr. Guenther explained.  “Our nurses screen patients for their eligibility in a trial, and we discuss all treatment options with each patient. We offer patients solutions that they may not get otherwise.”

At St. Elizabeth, we have the same studies available that people at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center or MD Anderson Cancer Center would. In fact, we’re a leader, just behind MD Anderson, for enrollment in one U.S. clinical study for breast cancer.

Dr. Guenther feels the advancements in clinical trials are transforming treatment for breast cancer patients, “there’s more success than ever in treating breast cancer. Cure rates are so much higher than they ever have been. It’s a very exciting time.”

See the full list of clinical trials offered at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, or learn more about breast cancer treatment.