Clinical Trials

New mesothelioma treatments are being evaluated in mesothelioma clinical trials, and we all hope for a mesothelioma cure. Mesothelioma clinical trials are research studies that evaluate new mesothelioma treatments for safety, effectively and through the research that is acquired will one day result in a mesothelioma cure. There are no guarantees that a treatment offered through a mesothelioma clinical trial will work, and because the treatments are in the trial stage, there are some risks. However, a mesothelioma clinical trial is not undertaken unless the researchers believe the treatment may have some value. Here are some of the treatments for malignant mesothelioma that are being evaluated:

  • Combination Chemotherapy — Different combinations of chemotherapy drugs have been tried with mixed results. A recent study showed some benefit of combining cisplatin (Platinol) and gemcitabine (Gemzar). The researchers used the combination to treat 21 patients with advanced mesothelioma, of whom 47 percent showed a partial response.
  • Intracavitary Chemotherapy — Instilling chemotherapy drugs directly into the pleural or peritoneal space is being researched because of its advantage over traditional chemotherapy. Because the drug is instilled directly into the cavity, much greater doses can be given to patients without causing severe side effects. Some studies have shown this therapy to result in control of effusions and reduced tumor size.
  • Brachytherapy (Intracavitary Radiation Therapy) — In this treatment, a radioactive substance is placed directly into the pleural or peritoneal space.
  • Multimodality Therapy — Any combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy is multimodality therapy. For example, researchers have combined surgery with intracavitary radiation or chemotherapy and then administered radiation or chemotherapy afterward.
  • Gene Therapy — In this approach, a virus that has been genetically altered is introduced into the tumor. The virus infects the tumor cells and makes them vulnerable to anticancer drugs.
  • Immunotherapy — These are treatments that stimulate the body's immune system to fight cancer cells.
  • Photodynamic Therapy — In this treatment, drugs that are sensitive to light are taken up by the tumor cells, which are then exposed to light.

Benefits of Participating in a Mesothelioma Clinical Trial Mesothelioma clinical trials offer you the opportunity to receive the best healthcare available and to contribute to scientific evidence that will one day result in a mesothelioma cure. You can choose to participate in a mesothelioma clinical trial and still work with your current healthcare team. Some of the benefits you may derive from participating in a mesothelioma clinical trial include:

  • New treatments with mesothelioma drugs that may be more effective than the standard treatment.
  • Mesothelioma doctors and nurses who will closely monitor your health status and watch very carefully for any side effects and changes in your condition while in the Mesothelioma clinical trial.
  • Part of your mesothelioma treatment may be free of charge.
  • Satisfaction knowing that your involvement may ultimately help other people and result in mesothelioma cure.
  • Knowing that, if one of the treatments being tested (either new or old) is apparently much better than the other, you will be switched to the better treatment.

Risks Involved in Clinical Trials

While significant efforts are made to ensure safety for patients participating in Mesothelioma clinical trials, some risks remain. Discuss possible risks with your doctor. Before you enter a Mesothelioma trial, your healthcare provider will talk with you in detail about the risks and benefits of the treatment.

Some patients are concerned that they will be "guinea pigs" for medical science if they participate in a Mesothelioma clinical trial. In most circumstances, the new treatment being tested is compared with the standard treatment. This means that in most cases a patient will be receiving at least standard treatment for their cancer. If a placebo is used in a trial you will be informed verbally and in writing about your chance of receiving the placebo.

Not all treatments work for all people. Clinical trials offer patients one more treatment option. They represent an opportunity to receive up-todate treatment and contribute to medical science and humanity at the same time. The good that can come from a clinical trial generally outweighs the risks.

The Consent Form

If you decide to join a mesothelioma clinical trial, you will be asked to sign an informed consent form. This document is required by all hospitals and medical institutions. When you sign the informed consent, you are stating that you have discussed the mesothelioma clinical trial with your doctor or nurse, that you have been told about the possible risks and benefits, and that you are participating in the trial because you want and choose to do so of your own free will.

Questions to Ask Before Committing to a Mesothelioma Clinical Trial You may want to ask your doctor, nurse or researcher administering the mesothelioma clinical trial questions before committing oneself.

Ask questions such as:

  • What does the mesothelioma trial hope to accomplish?
  • What side effects might I experience? Are these worse than those I might experience with standard treatment?
  • Who is sponsoring the mesothelioma trial? • What should I expect if I am in the trial?
  • What should I expect if I am not in the trial?
  • What are the possible benefits to my family and me if I go into the mesothelioma trial?
  • Will I have to pay for the treatment? Will any of the treatment be free?
  • Will joining a trial keep me from being treated with other therapies, either now or later?
  • Whom can I call if there are problems while I am in the mesothelioma trial? What phone number should I call in the evening or on weekends?

Some doctors are reluctant to have their patients participate in mesothelioma clinical trials. This may be due to any number of reasons, including:

  • Some healthcare providers may be generally concerned about their patients participating in medical research.
  • Some may be concerned that their patient's participation in a mesothelioma clinical trial will result in more work for the professionals and more demands on their already limited time.
  • Others may worry that patients cannot withstand the more frequent office visits that might be required.
  • Still others may believe that a standard treatment regimen will be best.

Finding Mesothelioma Clinical Trials

New and improved treatments for mesothelioma will come about only through mesothelioma clinical trials. Every person diagnosed with mesothelioma should be advised of the availability of clinical trials and be encouraged to participate in those that are appropriate and may provide clinical benefit.

Call 1-844-524-7778 for an updated list of clinical trials.

Mark Lanier of The Lanier Lawfirm discusses what treatment options are available.