Mesothelioma clinical trials are essentially research studies that are designed to test new drugs and other treatment forms that have not yet been approved for general public use or reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration. While that description may sound a little scary, the reality is that trials are generally safe and could offer the most promise for treatment success—in addition to playing a major contributing role in the advancement of medical science overall.
When new medical drugs, procedures or other treatments are invented—not just for mesothelioma cancer but for many different chronic, incurable or difficult to treat conditions—they have to be tested in order to evaluate two things: their effectiveness and their safety.
Clinical trials may also be designed to study screening methods, diagnostic procedures and preventative measures. For mesothelioma victims, treatment is a primary concern and focus, but investigative screening techniques are also a top priority for cancer researchers.
Currently, mesothelioma is classified as a universally terminal cancer—meaning that there is no cure and remission is rare. Other, more common cancer types—like prostate or skin cancer—have tremendously better prognoses and survival rates than mesothelioma. Much of the reasoning for this lies within the fact that those conditions are much more prevalent amongst the general population and have subsequently solicited vastly more attention from researchers and the medical community as a whole. As a result, screening and treatment methods have been much better developed for those more common cancer forms—resulting in much higher rates of survival.
Mesothelioma clinical trials are still a relatively recent development, because until the asbestos exposure landslide of the last century, a very statistically small number of cases were diagnosed. The more prevalent a condition is, the more attention it will garner from scientists and researchers.
With thousands of mesothelioma cases surfacing annually now, those asbestos victims and the tremendous injustice and tragedy that accompany their illness have brought what is actually a very uncommon form of cancer very much onto the public’s radar. Increased awareness and advocacy by victims’ rights groups has successfully spurned forward research into new treatment and screening methods at a high volume rate, resulting in the establishment of hundreds of promising mesothelioma clinical trials all around the world. Advocacy and awareness of the disease has also been beneficial in getting major funding dedicated to mesothelioma research through large-scale sponsors like the National Institute of Health and Department of Veterans Affairs, in addition to contributions made via private fundraising efforts.
The unfortunate side of mesothelioma clinical trials is that many are not large-scale studies and can only accommodate a very limited number of participants. This results in a challenge for many patients wishing to sign up. It’s not uncommon for mesothelioma patients to have to wait for significant periods of time before they can be admitted into a trial and begin receiving treatment.