Advantages vs Disadvantages of Mesothelioma Clinical Trials

Each clinical trial has unique objectives, with different stages of investigation and specific participation criteria. Clinical trials can offer life-saving treatment alternatives to those diagnosed with mesothelioma.

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Clinical Trials and Unapproved Therapies for Mesothelioma

Clinical trials test new ways to prevent, detect, diagnose and treat disease. Clinical trials test treatments and therapies that have not yet been approved for use by the general public. Trials move through phases and grow in participation numbers as researchers establish safe dosages and manage any potentially dangerous side effects.

For patients with mesothelioma, clinical trials can offer treatment alternatives to extend or prolong life, but they also carry risks. Clinical trials test drugs that have yet to be proven effective, meaning it’s not guaranteed that the drug in question will work or show any benefits to participants.

Before you go ahead with participating in mesothelioma clinical trials, you should be aware of the advantages and disadvantages that come with this treatment decision.

Advantages of Participating in Mesothelioma Clinical Trials

There are numerous advantages to participating in mesothelioma clinical trials, from gaining access to a potentially life-saving drug, to contributing to the advancement of medical knowledge. Here are the top reasons to participate in a mesothelioma clinical trial.

1. Access New Drugs Before They’re Made Available to the Public

When you participate in a clinical trial, you gain access to new drugs before the general public. This might mean that only participants in the trial are able to receive effective mesothelioma treatments or drugs.

2. New Options for Patients Who’ve Stopped Responding to Therapy

It’s very common for mesothelioma patients to stop responding to the standard first-line chemotherapy combination of Alimta® and cisplatin drugs. Given that there is currently no FDA-approved second-line treatment for mesothelioma, patients who have stopped responding to chemotherapy or relapsed after treatment may find new options within clinical trials.

3. Receive Specialized Care for Mesothelioma

The research teams that lead clinical trials for mesothelioma are specialists in the field. This means that clinical trial participants receive specialized care from the top mesothelioma medical professionals.

4. Learn About Your Unique Condition and Diagnosis

While participating in mesothelioma clinical trials you will have the opportunity to learn about your unique condition and diagnosis. For mesothelioma patients, this means that you will have the opportunity to ask mesothelioma specialists any questions you may have about your disease and its prognosis. This can be reassuring for some individuals, as it removes the fear of the unknown.

5. Receive Cutting-Edge Treatment for Free (Or Get Paid)

If drugs tested within clinical trials get approved, they can be released into the public at a high cost. If you participate in clinical trials, you have the opportunity to receive new treatments for free. Some clinical trials will even compensate you for your participation, with trials in early phases offering more money due to their higher risks.

6. Contribute to Medical Research and Help Discover a Cure

Some patients participate in clinical trials to help advance medical knowledge for themselves, loved ones or future generations. You may find it rewarding to participate in a clinical trial that helps society and other people with your disease find a new and effective treatment option.

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Disadvantages of Participating in Mesothelioma Clinical Trials

Like any treatment option, clinical trials also carry disadvantages and risks. Participating in a clinical trial can bring more hospital visits, increased expenses and the chance that the treatment in question doesn’t work.

1. Time Commitment and More Hospital Visits

If you decide to participate in a clinical trial, you will be required to undergo frequent tests to monitor your response to the treatment. Depending on how the drug is delivered, you may have to go to the hospital or a clinic to receive your treatments.

All of this means you will be spending a lot of time in hospitals. If you are traveling to participate in the clinical trial, this might mean that you will have to be away from home for the duration of the study.

2. Possible Increased Expenses Not Covered by Health Insurance

Clinical trials can bring expenses not covered by health insurance. You will be required to undergo multiple tests at the start of the clinical trial to establish a baseline for monitoring. Additional tests will be conducted throughout the duration of the study to determine if the treatment is effective.

These tests, along with any necessary travel expenses, may not be covered under your health insurance and can bring increased expenses and stress to you and your loved ones.

3. The Therapy Might Not Work

In addition to the time commitment and chance of increased costs, there is a chance that the treatment under investigation in the clinical trial is ineffective. Clinical trial participants are put under a huge amount of stress for a treatment that might not help them.

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4. Possible Side Effects and Toxicity

Possible negative side effects are closely monitored by researchers in all clinical trials. Although rare, there is a risk that the drug in question causes negative and possibly life-threatening side effects in participants.

5. Risk of the Researchers Stopping the Trial

There are various reasons for researchers to stop a clinical trial part way through. Sponsors can also decide to not move the trial into the next phase. Eligibility requirements can also change between phases and exclude participants in previous phases of the trial.

Participants can get their hopes up and be left devastated when they receive the news that the trial is stopping, no longer going forward or that they are not able to participate in the next phase.

Accessing Top Mesothelioma Treatment

No matter a patients’ decision about participating in mesothelioma clinical trials or not, people still deserve access to the highest quality of care.

If you have recently received a mesothelioma diagnosis, contact the Mesothelioma Justice Network to learn more about your treatment options, including clinical trials. Representatives can speak with you about how to take action and possibly receive financial compensation to pay for life-improving or life-extending treatments.

Author:Stephanie Kidd

Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network

Stephanie Kidd

Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

Last modified: May 22, 2019

View 2 Sources
  1. American Kidney Fund. “Advantages and Disadvantages of Participating in Clinical Trials.” Retrieved from: http://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-disease/clinical-trials/advantages-and-disadvantages/. Accessed on April 16, 2019.
  2. Cancer Research UK. “The Pros and Cons of Taking Part in a Clinical Trial.” Retrieved from: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/find-a-clinical-trial/what-you-should-be-told-about-a-clinical-trial/advantages-and-drawbacks. Accessed on April 17, 2019.
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