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Research and Clinical Trials for Older Adults with Breast Cancer

  • Dr. Freedman and Dr. Goreczny

    Rachel Freedman, MD, MPH, and Gregory Goreczny, PhD, members of the Older Adults with Breast Cancer research team

  • Our program brings together researchers and physicians dedicated to improving our understanding of breast cancer in older adults. In addition to clinical trials for patients of all ages, we offer many clinical trials dedicated to older patients designed to uncover new details about how breast cancer is different in older people. In these trials, we focus on issues that have been under-addressed in this age group. Clinicians and researchers are optimistic that this work may help develop more effective, personalized care, guiding older patients through the challenges of diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship.

    Should you participate in a clinical trial?

    Participating in a clinical trial is a very personal decision, and a choice that is completely yours to make. If it feels right to you, there are several good reasons to participate:

    • Clinical trials are how we make progress against cancer.
    • Taking part in a clinical trial can offer you new treatment options.
    • By participating in a clinical trial, you contribute to knowledge that can help future patients.

    Speak to your doctor about your clinical trial options. Learn more about clinical trials and whether participating in a clinical trial is right for you.

    Research Advances

    A study by the Cancer and Aging Research Group, co-authored by Rachel A. Freedman, MD, MPH, resulted in a new tool to help predict which older breast cancer patients who are about to begin chemotherapy are likely to experience severe side effects. This work confirmed that understanding patients' overall health can help predict who may have more side effects, enabling physicians to better support these patients. Dr. Freedman has also examined patterns of care and survival for older patients with breast cancer and is committed to improving upon what we know about this disease.

    Clinical Trials for Older Adults with Breast Cancer

    Although older patients can participate in almost any clinical trial, we also have several clinical trials dedicated to this group of patients. These are some of the clinical trials for older patients currently available at Dana-Farber. If you are interested in hearing more about them, ask your provider if any of these clinical trials may be right for you.

    • Improving Outcomes for Older Patients with Breast Cancer (Elevate) Identifier: NCT03818087
      Study team email:
      The Elevate study is a survey-based study which will follow patients for 5-10 years. This study aims to improve the care of older adults with breast cancer by assessing individualized treatment recommendations, reasons for treatment decisions, barriers to care, and outcomes in older patients.

    • Lower-Toxicity Chemotherapy Options for Older Patients with Breast Cancer (Advance) Identifier: NCT03858322
      The Advance study evaluates the feasibility of two different, modified chemotherapy options for patients age 70 and older whose doctors have recommended they receive either neoadjuvant (pre-operative) or adjuvant (postoperative) chemotherapy for their cancers. The study examines the use of carboplatin-paclitaxel in patients with triple negative breast cancer and cyclophosphamide-paclitaxel in patients with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer and will focus on the side effects and functional status of patients receiving chemotherapy.

    • Adjuvant T-DM1 in Older Patients (ATOP) Identifier: NCT03587740
      The ATOP study evaluates the effectiveness and safety of the antibody drug conjugate T-DM1 (Kadcyla®), as well as its effect on quality of life, in older adults with HER2-positive breast cancer.

    • Individualizing Surveillance Mammography for Older Breast Cancer Survivors Identifier: NCT03865654
      This study examines clinician and patient attitudes toward surveillance mammography and follow-up for older breast cancer survivors with the aim to improve communication between clinicians and patients.

    • Palbociclib and Fulvestrant or Letrozole in Metastatic Breast Cancer (Alliance) Identifier: NCT03633331
      This study evaluates a commonly used treatment in metastatic cancer – the combination of targeted therapy palbociclib (Ibrance®) with hormone therapy letrozole (Femara®) or fulvestrant (Faslodex®) – to better understand how patients age 70 or older with estrogen receptor-positive, HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer feel while taking this medication.

    • Tesetaxel for Patients age 65 and Older with Metastatic Breast Cancer (CONTESSA TRIO) Identifier: NCT03952325
      This study is evaluating how well a new oral chemotherapy works against metastatic breast cancer. One part of this study is just for patients 65 and older and gives this investigational medication on its own. Other parts of the study are also looking at ways of combining this new chemotherapy with immunotherapy medications.

    Search Dana-Farber's clinical trials.