Doctors and medical researchers are aggressively trying to find a cure for mesothelioma as well as better ways to diagnose the illness and improve the quality of life for mesothelioma patients. As with all diseases, this search involves developing and testing innovative therapies or combinations of treatments that improve upon existing methods. Clinical trials are part of the testing phase of this process and involve patients who volunteer to participate in a particular study.
Treatment options for mesothelioma patients tend to be limited depending on such factors as how far the disease has progressed and its location. Clinical trials offer patients free access to new treatments that seem promising but have not yet become part of the standard mesothelioma treatment repertoire.
To find a clinical trial that is right for you and get help with enrollment, ask the Mesothelioma Options Help Center to assist you now.
Clinical trials are conducted by the same institutions that provide health care or conduct medical research: medical centers, hospitals, universities and physicians' offices. Trials are headed by a lead researcher, also known as the principal investigator, who develops the protocol to be used in the trial and administers the project. The principal investigator is in turn overseen by an Institutional Review Board to ensure proper procedures and accountability.
"Clinical trials offer patients free access to new treatments that seem promising but have not yet become part of the standard mesothelioma treatment repertoire."
Researchers in clinical trials generally compare the results of a new treatment with one or more standard treatments, and also monitor side effects. Trials are often structured in phases – Phase I is a preliminary phase with limited enrollment that establishes the safety of the treatment; Phases II and II expand the testing to a broader group to establish its effectiveness; and Phase IV continues the testing after the treatment has been formally approved.
Not all clinical trials are designed to improve a patient’s condition. Trials are conducted to improve disease prevention, screening and diagnostic processes, and quality of life. In the case of mesothelioma, screening and diagnostic trials are very important for those who have been exposed to asbestos but not yet contracted the disease, as early detection dramatically improves a patient’s prognosis.
New treatments have already gone through years of development and testing before they become the basis for clinical trials. Researchers first study a new treatment in the lab, then test various applications on animals. If a new treatment shows promise, doctors then propose a clinical trial to test the treatment in people.
General Clinical Trial Information
Each clinical trial study has specific eligibility requirements such as type and stage of disease, age group and/or patient history. If you are interested in joining a clinical trial, your doctor must contact one of the trial investigators and provide details about your medical history. The National Institutes of Health and other medical research organizations sponsor trials on mesothelioma, and many are actively enrolling patients – see our resource pages for links to various ongoing trials.