You may not realize it, but every aspect of your mesothelioma treatment has benefited from a mesothelioma clinical trial. If you have been treated with chemotherapy, radiation treatments, or immunotherapy, you are experiencing the value of a mesothelioma clinical trial. Every cancer treatment goes through several stages of clinical trials to determine its effectiveness. Those treatments that are proven effective often become standard therapies that improve thousands of lives.
Right now, there are many clinical trials in progress. The results could mean longer life expectancy for mesothelioma patients and, someday, perhaps even a cure. Here’s your guide to the mesothelioma clinical trial process.
Mesothelioma Clinical Trial: 1, 2, 3
After scientists develop new cancer-fighting drugs and complete preliminary testing in the lab, the next step is the clinical trial. A mesothelioma clinical trial gives medical researchers an opportunity to find out how well a treatment works on humans. During the trial, investigators work with participants to understand the best dosages, the side effects, and the effectiveness of the treatment.
A mesothelioma clinical trial has at least three phases. In phase one, researchers enlist a small number of test subjects to try different doses. If the treatment is a multi-drug protocol, phase one participants may try different combinations and timings of the drugs to determine what is most effective. The principal investigator, who is usually a doctor, might try different ways to give the medicine (such as orally, through a shot, or in an intravenous drip).
In phase one and at any point in a mesothelioma clinical trial, the researchers may call the trial off if it appears the side effects are too harsh. In the past, researchers have also stopped clinical trials when it became obvious the treatment worked and they wanted to offer it to a wider group of patients. Mesothelioma patients may also leave the trial at any time, if participation becomes too difficult.
Treatments that show promise in phase one advance to phase two. In phase two, the mesothelioma clinical trial may include as many as 100 participants. Phase two looks at side effects, whether the protocol is working, and the safety of giving the treatment to a larger population.
When a new treatment advances to phase three, there may be thousands of study participants. A mesothelioma clinical trial at phase three will compare the test treatment to the best treatment currently available to mesothelioma patients. Phase three asks whether the new treatment improves on what is already available. A new mesothelioma drug might offer better outcomes or fewer side effects or both.
A mesothelioma clinical trial may study treatments to attack the cancer itself or alleviate the symptoms of mesothelioma or the side effects of other therapies.
Many drugs never make it through all three phases of a mesothelioma clinical trial. Those that do prove to be useful, however, can become the new standard of care. Immunotherapy drugs for mesothelioma and other types of cancer have emerged from clinical trials in recent years. These cutting edge cancer treatments have helped many patients.
Participation in a Mesothelioma Clinical Trial
Each mesothelioma clinical trial has a set of criteria. These criteria depend on the population and the type of mesothelioma tumor the treatment is aimed at. Researchers will look for patients with a specific type of mesothelioma or those whose cancer is at a certain stage. Other conditions for participating could include your age or what kinds of medications or treatments you have already gotten for your mesothelioma.
If you meet the criteria, there are other factors to consider before you sign up to participate in a mesothelioma clinical trial. Clinical trials may be conducted at a university or hospital and you may need to travel in order to participate. Ask about how long the trial will last and make sure you can commit to the whole time. While you are free to leave at any time, you will be of more service if you can stay in the mesothelioma clinical trial for the entire study period.
Finances are also a consideration. Find out what out of pocket expenses might be involved and whether the institution sponsoring the mesothelioma clinical trial has funding to pay for things like travel and hotel stays. Ask your insurance company whether extra medical expenses associated with the trial are covered.
If you qualify for a mesothelioma clinical trial and you are able to make the commitment to participate, the next step is to carefully review the details. Find out what treatments and procedures are involved and what your days will be like during the trial before you join.
Reasons to Join a Mesothelioma Clinical Trial
There are some potential downsides to being a part of a mesothelioma clinical trial. Scientific studies include randomized control groups, so you may not receive the cutting edge treatment being studied. If you are lucky to get the new drug, you could also be the unlucky test subject who develops a negative reaction to it.
For many mesothelioma patients, however, the plus side of participating in a mesothelioma clinical trial outweighs the negatives. As a study participant, you will get the best possible mesothelioma care, even if you don’t receive the experimental treatment. If you do have the opportunity to try the new drug, you will be getting cutting edge care that might offer new hope. For mesothelioma patients who have few good options, this could be a lifeline. You could be the first success story of a new treatment protocol.
Whether a mesothelioma clinical trial finds a new wonder drug or produces a flop, each one moves science forward. Every failure or success gives researchers more information that improves our understanding of mesothelioma disease. Each mesothelioma clinical trial is a stepping stone to the better treatments of tomorrow.
Where to Find a Mesothelioma Clinical Trial
If you are interested in a mesothelioma clinical trial, the next step is to find one for which you qualify. Ask your doctor about clinical trials in your area. If she doesn’t know about medical research opportunities, ask others in your mesothelioma treatment and support community.
An online search can also connect you with a mesothelioma clinical trial. Government sponsored trials are listed at clinicaltrials.gov and on the National Institute of Health website. The NIH’s National Cancer Institute offers a list that might include a mesothelioma clinical trial near you.
Whether or not you decide to participate in a mesothelioma clinical trial, researchers and study participants are working hard around the globe to find the next mesothelioma treatment. Their efforts continue to make life better for mesothelioma patients like you.