NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Breast Cancer – Locally Advanced (STAGE III)
Breast cancer basics
and chemotherapy, many women receive radiation
therapy and endocrine therapy.
Stages IIIA (T0-T3, N2, M0), IIIB, and IIIC
Due to the extent of these cancers, it is standard
to first receive chemotherapy. A mastectomy often
follows, but at times a lumpectomy can be done.
Lymph nodes near your armpit will be removed.
Radiation therapy will follow surgery. Endocrine
therapy may be received.
One of your treatment choices may be to join
a clinical trial. Joining a clinical trial is strongly
supported. NCCN believes that you will receive the
best management in a clinical trial.
New tests and treatments aren’t offered to the
public as soon as they’re made. They first need to
be studied. A clinical trial is a type of research that
studies a test or treatment in people.
Clinical trials study how safe and helpful tests and
treatments are for people. When found to be safe
and helpful, they may become tomorrow’s standard
of care. Because of clinical trials, the tests and
treatments in this book are now widely used to
help people with breast cancer. Future tests and
treatments that may have better results than today’s
treatments will depend on clinical trials.
New tests and treatments go through a series of
clinical trials. These trials aim to ensure they’re safe
and work. Without clinical trials, there is no way to
know if a test or treatment is safe or helpful. Clinical
trials have four phases.
Examples of the four phases for treatment are:
Phase I trials
aim to find the safest and best
dose of a new drug. Another aim is to find the
best way to give the drug with the fewest side
effects. These trials often involve about 20
Phase II trials
assess if a drug works for a
specific type of cancer.
Phase III trials
compare a new drug to a
standard treatment. These trials often involve
hundreds or thousands of people.
Phase IV trials
test drugs approved by the U.S.
dministration) to learn
more about side effects with long-term use.
Joining a clinical trial has benefits. First, you’ll have
access to the most current cancer care. However,
please note that it is unknown how well new
treatments work if at all. Second, you will receive the
best management in a clinical trial. Third, the results
of your treatment—both good and bad—will be
carefully tracked. Fourth, you may help other people
who will have cancer in the future.
Clinical trials have risks, too. Like any test or
treatment, there may be side effects. Also, new tests
or treatments may or may not improve your health.
In fact, your health may worsen during a trial. That is
why every cancer center follows guidelines to assess
the safety of people in research. Other downsides
may include more hospital trips, paperwork, and
extra costs for you.
To join a clinical trial, you must meet the conditions
of the study. Patients in a clinical trial are often alike
in terms of their cancer and general health. Thus, if
patients improve, it’s because of the treatment and
not because of differences between them.