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Benefits of Participating in a Mesothelioma Clinical Trial

What are Mesothelioma Clinical Trials?

Mesothelioma clinical trials are designed by medical researchers and pharmaceutical companies in order to test the effectiveness, safety, and applicability of new forms of therapy (including new drugs) for this asbestos cancer.  These trials are often funded by major cancer research centers, such as the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the National Cancer Institute, or pharmaceutical companies investigating the properties of new drugs or novel uses for existing drugs.  They are often overseen by researchers affiliated with these cancer centers or accredited medical schools such as the one at Penn State University. 

Clinical trials are often open to mesothelioma patients who meet certain criteria which vary depending on the study.  Participation can not only help the fight against mesothelioma but may also have significant benefits for the individual patient as well. 

The Benefits of Enrolling

Clinical trial participants are often the first patients to receive new and experimental treatments for mesothelioma.  This is a two-sided coin however.  While these new therapies may hold promise and might be more effective than existing treatments, there is no way for patients to know that before the trials. 

However, many who opt to participate in a clinical trial have already tried traditional frontline mesothelioma treatments with little or no success and are therefore considering an experimental or alternative form of treatment. 

Clinical trials are conducted under strict regulation and observation.  Therefore, patient safety is of the utmost priority.  The leaders of these clinical trials will be required to exclude any patient who has anything in their medical history that would suggest a negative reaction to the treatment.  That does not mean there isn’t any risk, but measures are taken to reduce them. 

Many clinical trials are covered either fully or partially under a patient’s existing health insurance.  However, it is their responsibility to find out just what insurance will and won’t pay for.  Some clinical trials may also cover certain expenses with money from the trial’s sponsors.  As a patient, it is important to understand that part of the benefits of filing a mesothelioma lawsuit is that settlements more than cover medical bills and treatment costs.

It’s the Patient’s Choice

A patient’s treatment, experimental or otherwise, is always their decision.  Enrolling in a clinical trial is as well.  Nobody can tell a mesothelioma patient what to do.  Deciding which treatments to try is not an easy thing to do.  Patients and their loved ones are given a lot of information and must weigh all the treatment options amongst themselves and with their doctor.   

A few helpful questions to considering before enrolling in a clinical trial are:

  • What is the purpose of the trial?  Is it a curative or palliative treatment?  Is it a standalone treatment or a part of a multimodal approach?
  • What treatments will be applied?  (Drug therapy?  Multimodal therapy?  Radiation?)
  • What sort of tests will I be subject to?  (CT Scans, PET Scans, x-ray, blood work, tissue samples, etc.)
  • What are the risks and side-effects of this experimental treatment?
  • Where will the trial take place?  (In-home versus a hospital setting?  Will I have to commute?  Will I be compensated for travel?)
  • How long will the trial take?
  • Can I opt out?
  • Who or what organization will conduct the trial and what are their credentials?
  • Will the treatment be covered by medical insurance?

Finding Mesothelioma Clinical Trials

One of the easiest ways to find clinical trials for which a patient may qualify is for them to ask their health care professional.  Mesothelioma doctors have access to private and government databases of all the clinical trials ongoing and currently recruiting in the United States.  By asking them to get involved in the search, patients not only engage them in the conversation but also let them know of their desire to go beyond traditional treatments. 

Patients can also search the National Cancer Institute’s database of clinical trials by visiting their website:   http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct/screen/SimpleSearch.