Clinical Trials for Mesothelioma
Clinical trials for mesothelioma are a different avenue of the treatment process. They research new ways to prevent, treat and cure mesothelioma. These studies are conducted by licensed medical practitioners.
Different factors change with each clinical trial. Clinical trials for mesothelioma typically study different surgical options, medications or both. The locations and time frame for these studies also vary. Some range several weeks, while others can range several years. The studies may be conducted in one hospital or at locations across the nation.
Clinical trials are not a guarantee for any form of cure or treatment, but they may be able to help your condition depending on the treatment method used. However, some patients may not be able to participate in certain mesothelioma trials if they do not meet the necessary requirements.
By continuously studying new treatment options, doctors get closer and closer to finding a cure for mesothelioma.
How Clinical Trials Work
Clinical trials test if and how upcoming treatment methods—typically medicines—can be used to treat certain types of cancer. This includes testing new medications and using existing medications with new ones.
Each clinical trial is run by a principal investigator. Depending on the size of the study, the principal investigator, researchers and doctors around the world will work together to come to one conclusion. Many clinical trials are funded by government programs or other cancer organizations.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) outlines five phases to a clinical trial.
- Phase 0/Early Stage 1: This initial phase explores how the drug affects of cancer cells. They involve very small groups of people and do not have any goal.
- Phase 1: The goal of this phase focuses on how people can safely take a drug. It looks to find out the best way to take the medicine (orally, by injection, etc) and the best dosage to take. It also studies how the drug affects the human body (such as any side effects that arise). In cancer studies, 30 people or fewer take part in this phase per trial.
- Phase 2: In phase 2, researchers try to find how the drug affects certain types of cancer. This phase notes the effectiveness of a drug. They also continue to note any side effects, allowing them to refine their research. The research group is expanded to include 100 people or fewer.
- Phase 3: In phase 3, researchers compare the treatment method they are testing with current treatment methods. This will allow them to determine if the upcoming treatment is more effective. Hundreds or thousands of people can participate in this phase depending on the needs of the researchers. Phase 3 is typically the last in most clinical trials.
- Phase 4: This final phase conducts follow-up research after the drug has been approved for use by the FDA. Typically these studies track the long-term effects of the drug.
When to Seek a Clinical Trial for Mesothelioma
Because mesothelioma currently has no cure, clinical trials can help connect people with alternate treatment methods from licensed professionals. For patients with a poor prognosis, clinical trials can give them a source of hope.
If you are seeking a clinical trial as a treatment option, consult with a trusted and experienced doctor to find potential studies near you.
Though clinical trials may be thought of by some as a last resort, it is important to keep them in mind throughout the treatment process. The timing and placement of trials plays a big factor in whether they will be an option for you.
Some clinical trials may not accept patients with later stages of the disease or those who have sought earlier treatments recently. Fortunately, there are many clinical trials available. Some will study specific stages—or all stages—of mesothelioma. In some cases, it is just a matter of finding the right study that works for you.
Risks of Clinical Trials for Mesothelioma
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, since clinical trials study medication in previously untested ways, the outcomes of the trial may not be known when it first begins. Medications can sometimes have serious side effects.
Patients are given informed consent about the clinical trial by researchers before they decide to join. Informed consent tells the patients the potential benefits and risks of the trial. Researchers will provide updates on these benefits and risks for each phase.
If you have heard about clinical trials, you may be concerned about the placebo factor. A placebo contains no medicine. In clinical trials, placebos may be given to a control group. This allows researchers to study the effects of the real treatment on others by comparing them to the control group.
Fortunately, placebos are only given alongside standard treatments if they are used in clinical trials. Additionally, participants of a clinical trial will know beforehand if a placebo may be used in the study. This assures mesothelioma patients that they will still get proper treatment as a result of the study if they decide to participate.
Cost of Clinical Trials
Before joining a study, it is also important to know about how much it could cost you. Unlike standard treatment methods, different costs from clinical trials may not be covered by your insurance.
According to the National Cancer Institute, costs of clinical trials not covered by insurance include lab tests and X-rays done as part of the study and the cost of the drug being tested. However, these costs may be covered by the company or organization funding the study.
Despite these potential hurdles, a clinical trial may be able to help slow the progression of your mesothelioma. Even if the trials do not personally help you, you are still playing an important part in finding a cure. Only by testing new treatments can a cure be found.
Patients can drop out of the study at any time if they do not want—or cannot afford—to continue the trials. They can then consult with their doctor about pursuing other treatment methods.
Clinical Trials and Mesothelioma Patients
If you are interested in joining a clinical trial, you have many options. Talk to your doctor to find out about any local trials that may be accepting participants.
In addition, several government sites offer databases of clinical trials. These databases can easily allow you to find studies related to mesothelioma.
These sites include:
ClinicalTrials.gov: This official database compiles thousands of currently active and completed studies across America—and around the world—into one place. Its search controls allow you to filter out studies by condition and activity.
The National Cancer Institute: This government organization’s search page allows you to find government-sponsored clinical trials for many different forms of mesothelioma, including the three major types: pericardial, peritoneal and pleural. There is also a list of active mesothelioma trials elsewhere on the site.
Though clinical trials may not be available to everyone, those who participate can find hope in new treatment methods. Fortunately, new trials are being conducted every year. Therefore, even if you cannot join one at the moment, one may become available down the road.