Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, your treatment can directly impact your future health and life expectancy. One of the many options available to you may be in the form of a clinical trial. Clinical trials are used to test new therapies and procedures for a particular disease. Sometimes they may also test other types of treatments, screening and prevention methods. These studies serve to determine whether these new methods are safe and effective and can then be approved for standard use within the field.
Clinical trials have specific criteria that you have to meet in order to become a patient within the study. Every clinical trial has a different set of criteria depending on the needs of the study being done. You may need to have a certain type of mesothelioma, or your cancer may need to be in a certain stage. Often trials also have an age range. They may look for participants who have already received particular treatments that have failed. Other times they may need patients who have not yet received any treatment. Each clinical trial has its own set of requirements, and you’ll need to meet all of them in order to become a participant.
It is important to speak to your doctor if you are interested in a clinical trial for malignant mesothelioma. He or she can offer information regarding current clinical trials and help you in your search for appropriate studies. They can also advise you about the benefits and risks involved. You’ll need to personally weigh the potential benefits against the risks along with your doctor. You’ll need to first be fully informed and thoroughly understand the possibility of negative as well as positive outcomes. Then you can make your decision accordingly based on your doctor’s advice and the information you have been given.
Remember, the purpose of the study is to evaluate the safety and efficacy of an unproven mesothelioma treatment, procedure or drug. Drugs with proven safety and efficacy are often tested against other drugs with known safety and efficacy, to determine if one regimen is better than another. This means there will be no guarantee of long-term benefits. This is one of the risks that you take when involved in a clinical trial. Other risks can include negative side effects that have not yet been documented. You may also find that you meet the criteria for a clinical trial outside of your area, which will require you to travel in order to participate in the study. These are just a few of the downsides of clinical trial participation.
The positive benefits can include the ability to receive medication, procedures or treatments not yet available to all patients. These are methods that have not been approved but are thought to have the potential of a positive outcome for patients in your situation. This can be an exciting possibility, especially if you have a higher stage cancer and very limited options.
Clinical trials are often performed at leading healthcare facilities, which can be an additional benefit. These facilities tend to be on top of the most beneficial treatments and have top doctors knowledgeable in the latest research. Many physicians within these facilities are at the forefront of your particular disease and spend their careers working for better treatments and cures (1). This could prove crucial in receiving the best possible treatment for mesothelioma available to date.
There are three stages to clinical trials, and each stage means it is in a different phase of study. Phase I determines the safety of the drug and maximally tolerated doses. Phase II is then used to determine the efficacy of the drug based on the dosage found in Phase I.
Phase III is then used to compare the new treatment with other treatments already in use within the medical community. Phase III studies usually involve a very large number of patients from all across the country. Keep in mind if you are in a Phase III clinical trial, you may receive the standard treatment rather than the new treatment being studied, as this is one aspect of this type of study. However, it is rare that placebo medication is given in cancer trials.
Your doctor is a great resource of information regarding clinical trials. There are also many other great resources out there that can assist you in gathering information and helping in the decision making process, many of which are now available online. Many of these resources also list all current available clinical trials and the criteria you will need to meet in order to be eligible for participation.
The National Cancer Institute is a trusted leader in cancer research. Their online website can prove a valuable tool for cancer patients. It shows current research and trial results and offers general information on clinical trials for patients. You can also browse a full listing of clinical trials available to see if there is anything currently available to those diagnosed with mesothelioma in which you may be able to participate.
Clinical trials may or may not be a covered benefit of your healthcare insurance. This is another area you will need to consider when deciding whether or not to become involved in a study. Often there are strict criteria that must be met for coverage. You may also find that some parts of the cost of healthcare through a clinical trial will be covered while others are not. Some states have passed laws regarding coverage of clinical trials, and there may be other options for covering your expenses. Be sure to look into all the financial aspects as well as the benefits and risks before deciding on participation in any study.