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The Importance of Clinical Trials – Especially for Mesothelioma Victims

The Importance of Clinical Trials – Especially for Mesothelioma Victims

A rare and aggressive malignancy, mesothelioma, is cancer affecting the lining that surrounds various organs and cavities within the body. Mesothelioma gets its name from this lining, which is called the mesothelium. Mesothelioma is a cancer that is strictly caused by asbestos exposure. Victims are typically only given a year, sometimes just months, to live after an initial diagnosis.  Since there is no cure for mesothelioma, scientists and researchers are continually looking into treatments, therapies, chemotherapy drugs and vaccines – anything to help victims survive.

One way scientists test their research is through clinical trials, which are research studies that involve people. Through clinical trials, patients have access to the most innovative and newly designed treatments and technologies. Doctors are able to test their theories on actual subjects, which provide a more accurate result. All clinical trials or studies are divided into different phases, and each phase focuses on different components to the drug that must be evaluated before it is deemed safe and effective.

In Phase 1 of a clinical trial, typically only a small number of people get to participate. One of the main purposes of Phase 1 in a clinical trial is to determine drug procedures and figure out the best way to administer a drug.  In Phase 2, the clinical trial will be able to determine whether or not a new drug or procedure works and also takes a look at the benefits and safety of the product. Finally, in Phase 3 of a clinical trial, the new treatments, which now has doctors and scientists hopeful, are administered and compared to the current or standard treatment. Phase 3 trials typically use a large pool of patients, so researchers can monitor similarities and differences.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, clinical trials help advance medical care. It determines if a new approach is safe and determines which treatments work best for certain people and illnesses (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services).

Clinical trials are important because they offer options and mesothelioma patients know that options are limited when it comes to effective treatments. Immunotherapy and gene therapy are alternatives to chemotherapy when it comes to treating patients. However, immunotherapy and gene therapy are not FDA approved and only available through clinical trials (Selby, Mesothelioma Clinical Trials). A victim of mesothelioma won’t know exactly what will work for them unless they are able to explore more options.

How do I participate in a Clinical Trial?

As with most studies, one must qualify to be able to participate. Being able to meet the criteria is important for many reasons. Doctors and scientists need to have the best candidate possible to determine efficacy, and also, since the treatment could have adverse effects, it is important to be safe. To participate in a mesothelioma clinical trial, you can visit various websites such as Clinicaltrials.gov or Mesotheliomacenter.org/clinical trials and see what trials are recruiting. Once there, you can determine if you are eligible and meet the criteria. You will also be able to contact the scientists and researchers who are conducting the study.

It is true; those who participate in clinical trials are essentially guinea pigs, but it is imperative to have participants to advance modern medicine. Those who participate in clinical trials are there not only to help themselves, but the greater good because their results structure how a treatment is developed. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, encourage them to seek out clinical trials. It could benefit their lives, and the lives of others.

Sources
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Why Are Clinical Trials Important?” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. [Link]

Karen Selby, “Mesothelioma Clinical Trials,” The Mesothelioma Center. [Link]