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Mesothelioma Clinical Trials

Mesothelioma patients who are looking for the some of the most promising new treatments or therapies are turning to clinical trials for their best options.

Clinical trials are research studies that involve patients and look for new ways to test, treat and possibly cure diseases, including mesothelioma. Of the clinical trials that are focused on mesothelioma, many concentrate on pleural mesothelioma, which is the most common type of the disease.

Types of Clinical Trials

There are many types of clinical trials, which allow patients to choose what is best given their set of circumstances:

  • Treatment -- new treatments or combinations of existing treatments to formulate new uses.
  • Prevention -- preventative measures to stopping a particular disease.
  • Diagnostic -- new ways to find cancer earlier. This usually involves patients who have some signs or symptoms of cancer.
  • Screening -- new ways to diagnose cancer earlier for better outcomes. This is particularly useful in mesothelioma. This involves patients who do not have any signs of cancer.
  • Quality of Life/Supportive Care -- new palliative care measures that are aimed at reducing pain.

Phases of Clinical Trials

In addition to the types of clinical trials, there are primary phases of trials that allow for a broad range of participants before a new drug or treatment is released to the general population. The fourth phase of the trial usually occurs after it has been released, when pharmaceutical companies can see how the drug or treatment reacts overall.

  • Phase I -- This part of the trial tests a small group of patients, about 20 to 80, to determine its safety and efficacy.
  • Phase II -- The experimental drug or treatment is given to a larger group of people, usually up to 300, to get a closer look at the reactions and study its safety. If a drug is to fail, it typically happens in phase II.
  • Phase III -- Up to 3,000 people take the proposed drug or treatment to monitor for side effects and compare it to commonly used treatments. This is the most expensive and time-consuming phase of clinical trials. Most drugs and treatments must undergo two successful phase III trials before U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
  • Phase IV -- Also known as postmarketing surveillance, this phase includes ongoing scrutiny of the drug or treatment’s efficacy and safety in the general population. Harmful effects in phase IV may result in a drug being recalled.

Enrolling in Clinical Trials

There are several ways to find clinical trials that are focused on mesothelioma. Most of the larger mesothelioma cancer treatment centers are affiliated with or performing their own clinical trials. It is important to ask your doctor about which ones would be best for you. Also, visit Centerwatch.com and clinicaltrials.gov for more information about local clinical trials. Most clinical trials have very specific guidelines and criteria for participating. You must match these guidelines to be considered. Once you have found a clinical trial you would like to try, make sure you email or call the study organizers. In some cases, you may need to undergo a physical or submit health documents from your doctor to be included.

Common Misconceptions about Clinical Trials

Many patients shy away from clinical trials because they don’t fully understand what they are. There are common misconceptions and problems that often impede patients and the trials themselves:

If I enroll in a clinical trial, I might not get any treatment

While it is true that some clinical trials use placebos, or dummy pills, placebos are rarely used in cancer clinical trials. In studies where there is already safe and effective treatment, like cancer, no one receives a placebo. Patients get either the drug or treatment that is being tested or the already established drug or treatment.

The requirements for most clinical trials are too strict

Yes, it’s true that pharmaceutical companies have strict guidelines for joining clinical trials. This is used so the scientists can reach valid scientific conclusions. However, this shouldn’t stop patients from trying to be included. The benefits far outweigh the risks for most mesothelioma patients.

I’m far too sick to benefit from clinical trials. Why should I bother?

Maybe you are too sick to benefit from a clinical trial, but there are scores of other patients who might benefit from your involvement. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that is often diagnosed in the later stages, so your involvement can help advance medical knowledge and help other patients.

Sources:

  1. National Cancer Institute. Cancer Clinical Trials. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/clinicaltrials/clinical-trials
  2. Pines. Wayne. “The Benefits of Clinical Trials.” WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/news/20000414/clinical-trials-benefits.
  3. Densmore, Sara. “How to Enroll in a Clinical Trial.” For Dummies. Retrieved from http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-enroll-in-a-clinical-trial.html
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