Get Critical Health Info

No one should face hereditary cancer alone.

Thinking about cancer or dealing with cancer risk can be scary or overwhelming, but we believe that receiving information and resources is comforting, empowering, and lifesaving.

Hereditary Cancer Info > Participating in Research > Tips for Searching Studies

| More

BRCA & HBOC
Toggle Menu

Tips for Searching Studies

Learn all about participating in research studies focused on hereditary cancers, including breast, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate and melanoma.

Searching treatment studies

People who have been diagnosed with cancer may be interested in participating in a clinical trial for treating their cancer or keeping it from returning after treatment. Our Research Study Search Tool looks up studies by cancer type, subtype, and stage. You can refine your search to look for additional study features. See below for tips on searching for treatment studies.

If you need help understanding research terminology and abbreviations, visit our list of definitions. If you would like assistance using our Research Study Search Tool to look for treatment clinical trials, our Peer Navigation Program can match you with a trained volunteer who can help you find research studies.

Before you search

Every patient has the right to know about all their options for care, including clinical trials and research. Your doctor may not be aware of all the research opportunities available to you, especially if she practices at a hospital or facility that is not enrolling patients in a study. Be sure to inform your doctor before and after enrolling in a study, even if he did not recommend a study to you. Your doctor may have important insights, questions, or recommendations about your participation. 

Medical information you may need

It is helpful to have your medical records, especially your pathology report on hand as you search for treatment clinical trials. 

Some studies require tissue samples for participation. You may need to order your tissue samples from the hospital that performed your surgery. Some studies require you to have an additional biopsy. Check the study listing or call the contact person to learn about the tissue sample requirements for the study.

You have a right to all your medical information, lab test results, and even tumor samples if available. Most healthcare systems keep these records in electronic form and make them available to patients through a patient portal. If you have a patient portal but the report you are looking for is not there, ask your doctor’s office to “release the report to your patient portal.”  Because Many of the healthcare systems have their electronic medical records systems set-up so that the reports do not automatically go into the patient portal to keep patients from seeing the results before they have talked to their doctor.

If you request print copies of your records, health care providers are allowed to charge a nominal fee for print copies of your records. As a practice most healthcare systems do not charge a fee for records that are used for continuation of care.  

Beginning your search

  • Cancers can be categorized by the organ or area of the body where the cancer started. Our tool searches for studies on the most common cancers seen within our community. Click on each cancer type listed below to view specific tips for searching these studies in our Research Search Tool. 
  • Cancer stage
    • Cancers can also be categorized by stageStage refers to a set of criteria that experts use to determine how far a cancer has spread in order to recommend the best treatment for a patient. Cancer treatment clinical trials are often open only to people with a particular cancer stage. A common misconception is that treatment clinical trials are only for people who have very advanced cancers and have no further treatment options. In fact, there are treatment clinical trials for every stage of cancer and at all points on the treatment continuum.
  • Other cancer features
    • Other features that guide treatment may also affect who can enroll in a clinical trial. These include:
      • Newly diagnosed cancer versus cancer that has recurred after treatment
      • Cancer that responds to certain treatments like platinum or hormonal therapies versus cancer that is resistant
      • Genetic test or tumor marker results

Study features

  • Study design
    • Studies can be categorized by their study design and how patients are assigned to different study groups. Terms like double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled describe types of clinical trial design. You can look up the meaning of these terms on our Definitions page
  • Study phase
    • The term phase is often used in research for new treatments
      • Phase I trials usually involve a small number of patients and are designed to evaluate safety and optimal dosing of a new drug.
      • Phase II trials further test a new drug’s safety and efficacy.
      • Phase III trials involve more participants and compare new drugs to current standard treatments. Participants are usually randomly assigned to the group receiving standard treatment or the group receiving the new treatment. 

Searching breast cancer treatment studies

Our Research Study Search Tool helps you find breast cancer studies by:

  • Subtypes:
    • Triple-negative
    • Hormone positive
    • Her2neu positive
  • Stage:
    • Stage 0 (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ)
    • Stage I
    • Stage II
    • Stage III
    • Stage IV (metastatic)
  • Genetic test results
    • Some breast cancer studies are open to people with an inherited mutation associated with increased cancer risk, including BRCA1, BRCA2, and other genes such as PALB2, ATM, CHEK2, etc.
  • Keyword search
    • You can also add a keyword to narrow your search results. Keywords may include the type of treatment, e.g., surgery, radiation, or lymph node mapping. You can also search by a class of drug, e.g., PARP inhibitor or immunotherapy, or by the name of a drug, e.g., metformin or olaparib.

Searching ovarian cancer treatment studies

Search ovarian cancer treatment studies in our matching tool by:

  • Treatment timing:
    • Newly diagnosed
    • Recurrent
  • Genetic test results
    • Ovarian cancer studies are open to people with an inherited mutation associated with increased cancer risk, including BRCA1, BRCA2, Lynch Syndrome genes and other genes such as BRIP1STK11, RAD51C, and RAD51D.
  • Keyword search
    • Add a keyword to narrow your search results. Examples of keywords may include the type of treatment e.g., surgery or intraperitoneal chemotherapy. You can also search by the class of drug, e.g., PARP inhibitor or immunotherapy, or the name of a drug, e.g., Avastin or olaparib.

Searching pancreatic cancer treatment studies

You can search pancreatic cancer treatment studies in our matching tool by:

  • Surgical stage:
    • Resectable
    • Borderline resectable
    • Unresectable
    • Metastatic
  • Genetic test results
    • Some pancreatic cancer studies are open to people with an inherited mutation associated with increased cancer risk, including BRCA1, BRCA2 and other genes such as ATM, PALB2STK11, Lynch Syndrome genes, and TP53.
  • Keyword search
    • Add a keyword to narrow down your search results. Examples of keywords may include the type of treatment, e.g., surgery or radiation. You can also search by keywords using the class of drug, e.g., PARP inhibitor or immunotherapy, or the name of a drug, e.g., olaparib, metformin or avastin.

Searching prostate cancer treatment studies

You can search prostate cancer treatment studies in our matching tool by:

  • Treatment timing:
    • Newly diagnosed
    • Recurrent
  • Castration sensitivity (whether or not the cancer responds to surgery or drugs to block testosterone
    • Castration sensitive
    • Castration resistant
  • Genetic test or tumor test results
    • Some prostate cancer studies are open to people with an inherited mutation associated with cancer risk including BRCA1, BRCA2, ATM, CHEK2, and NBN or a genetic marker in their tumor.
  • Keyword search
    • Add a keyword to narrow your search results. Examples of keywords may include the type of treatment, e.g., surgery or radiation. You can also search by keywords using the class of drug, e.g., PARP inhibitor or immunotherapy, or the name of a drug, e.g., olaparib, rucaparib, or Xtandi.

Searching melanoma treatment studies

You can search melanoma treatment studies in our matching tool by:

  • Surgical stage:
    • Metastatic
    • Early stage
    • Locally advanced
  • Genetic test or tumor test results
    • Some melanoma cancer studies are open to people with an inherited mutation associated with cancer risk including BRCA1 and BRCA2 or a genetic marker in their tumor like BRAF.
  • Keyword search
    • Add a keyword to narrow the results. Examples of keywords may include the type of treatment e.g., surgery or radiation. You can also search by keywords using the class of drug, e.g., PARP inhibitor or immunotherapy, or the name of a drug, e.g., vemurafenib or Gleevac.

FORCE:Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered