What are mesothelioma clinical trials, and how can you use them to your advantage? Following is information on what mesothelioma clinical trials are, how they work and how to participate in them.
Basics of Mesothelioma Clinical Trials
Every medical treatment in the U.S. has to first be tested before it is used. Scientists begin by doing laboratory experiments involving cells and animals, to make sure a regimen is tolerable for people. Doctors ultimately need to know that a treatment is safe and effective for actual patients. This is where a clinical trial comes in.
Clinical trials are conducted in four phases. A treatment has to be approved in one phase in order to proceed to the next.
- Phase 0: Scientists want to establish what a drug does when introduced into in the body. Very few patients participate in this phase.
- Phase I: Researchers establish whether a drug is safe. Between 15 and 50 patients participate. No placebos are used.
- Phase II: If safe, a drug is now tested to see if it is effective – if it does what doctors and patients want it to do. Doses and methods vary. Between 25 and 100 people participate. No placebos are used.
- Phase III: In this final step, researchers try to determine if a drug is better than what is already available for patients. At least a few hundred people are enrolled, if not more. Placebos may be used.
Drugs that pass Phase III clinical trials are then submitted to the FDA for approval.
Why Mesothelioma Clinical Trials are Vital
According to the American Cancer Society, most people live their lives without a need to think about clinical trials. That’s because, for milder diseases, existing treatments are usually good enough.
However, patients with grave illnesses like mesothelioma are in constant need of new and better medicines. Thus, people who join mesothelioma clinical trials are doing their part to help advance the treatment of mesothelioma.
There is no guarantee that an experimental treatment will work better than an existing one, so clinical trials are not without risks. However, clinical trials provide mesothelioma patients with more therapeutic options. Often, mesothelioma patients’ only avenue for trying cutting-edge treatments – like photodynamic therapy, gene therapy or targeted drugs – is the clinical trial.
Is a Mesothelioma Clinical Trial Right for You?
It is very important to speak with your doctors, specialists, a patient navigator, family members and legal counsel before deciding one way or the other. There are certain factors you will need to weigh.
- What are the risks and benefits of a particular trial?
- Does your form of mesothelioma meet its criteria?
- How advanced is your condition?
- What do you expect to get out of a clinical trial?
- Have you explored all other available options?
- What are the costs? How much will your insurance cover?
This last question may be the most critical. With mesothelioma, it is important to set realistic goals. Clinical trials do not offer cures, but they do present the chance to try a treatment that may extend life by months or even years.
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