Mesothelioma is a very rare cancer with only about 2,500 to 3,500 people being diagnosed each year. Because mesothelioma is rare, clinical trials are probably the best source for finding a cure or increasing the lifespan of a diagnosed individual. Mesothelioma clinical trials occur throughout the United States.
Newest and Most Advanced Treatments
Clinical trials offer patients diagnosed with mesothelioma the opportunity to try the newest and most advanced treatments available to mesothelioma patients, which could potentially result in a cure. All treatments have to go through clinical trials to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA).
Specific to Certain Treatment Needs
Clinical trials are also helpful for patients who have specific treatment needs. For example, some trials are formulated especially for late stage patients. Patients who aren’t able to undergo surgery may feel like they have few options, but there are many clinical trials that involve non-invasive and drug-based treatments. Mesothelioma patients are able to expand their treatment options greatly if they consider clinical trials.
Expands Treatment Options
At present, the FDA has only approved one treatment for those diagnosed with Mesothelioma. That lone treatment therapy is a combination of two chemotherapy drugs: pemetrexed (also called Alimta) and cisplatin. This treatment was approved by the FDA in 2004 following the completion of a clinical trial of 456 patients. This clinical trial showed higher survival rate when compared to taking cisplatin alone. Without clinical trials, this breakthrough treatment would not have been possible.
Treatments go through four phases of trials:
The treatment is tested on a small group of patients to determine if it’s safe and effective as well as what the side effects are. It also helps doctors determine the effective dosage and delivery method.
Researchers test the treatment on a larger group to confirm efficacy and safety on different patients.
The treatment is tested on an even larger group of patients to collect more information about efficacy, side effects, and safety. Often, half of the group will be treated with the experimental treatment, while the other half is treated with standard treatments. This is so that researchers will be able to compare the two.
If the treatment passes the third phase, the FDA approves it for sale. After approval, the treatment is still subject to research to study how it affects different populations and what the long term effects are.
Talk to your doctor before deciding to join a clinical trial. You and your family should ask many questions so that you have a good understanding of the pros and cons of any potential treatment. Ask questions of the doctors that are treating you as well as the researchers that are running the clinical trial.
To learn about currently recruiting clinical trials you can search on ClinicalTrials.gov or CenterWatch.com.
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