Current Mesothelioma Clinical Trials: What You Need to Know

If you are facing an asbestos cancer diagnosis, you probably already know that mesothelioma clinical trials may offer the most promise for successful treatment and an improved prognosis. Sadly, the current mesothelioma prognosis is less than favorable. Only a mere ten percent of victims live past the five-year mark, with the majority succumbing to the effects of the disease within the first two years after diagnosis.

Current commonly prescribed treatment methods generally show limited success, because most people undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, surgery or other traditional treatments have already progressed into the late stages of cancer—thus making efforts to eradicate the illness minimally effectively. Indeed, earlier detection may be key to a more promising opportunity for a future cure.

In the meantime, mesothelioma clinical trials are one option beyond those traditional mesothelioma treatment methods that are available to those currently being diagnosed with the disease. Clinical trials are designed to test out the safety and effectiveness of new and experimental treatment modalities. These may include recently developed drugs, new combinations of established treatments or even completely revolutionary methods that have never been tried before.

One major concern for many patients is the risks incurred by participants of mesothelioma clinical trials. While it is true that some new treatment methods may have not yet been fully tested for safety, rest assured that researchers spend many years developing medical treatments prior to conducting human trials. Additionally, all clinical studies conducted in the U.S. are carefully monitored and also subject to stringent ethical guidelines and safety standards.

It is also important to remember the cost-benefit dyad when considering participation in a clinical trial. Because mesothelioma is considered a terminal illness, it is valid to consider whether possible health risks involved in an experimental treatment are really a heavy enough concern to outweigh the possibility of that treatment’s success, when facing an already significantly shortened life expectancy. In other words, patients should ask themselves if it is worth it to take a chance if that chance offers their best (or even, only) hope for adding years to their lives.

Always talk to your doctors and other members of your care team when considering any treatment decision. Beyond predicting your chances of successful treatment, your age, overall health, and the stage and status of your illness all affect whether or not you will be eligible for any particular trial. Certain criteria—variable by each and every trial—must be met for a patient to be enrolled. Your physician can help you to determine which mesothelioma clinical trials may be open to you and which you will not qualify for; in addition, each study will have a cap on the number of participants it can accommodate. Therefore, you will want to start looking at possible trial groupings as soon as possible—it is highly likely that they will fill up very fast. (You can start your search online here.)