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Assessing the Risk of Clinical Trials for Mesothelioma

Clinical trials for mesothelioma is a treatment option for many patients, especially those whose cancer has failed to respond to front-line treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy.  However, not all clinical trials are the same and often each patient’s case has unique conditions to take into consideration. 

While mesothelioma clinical trials do represent the leading edge in mesothelioma research and patients in these studies often have first access to new drugs and treatments and top-notch mesothelioma experts, there can be risks that come with these experimental trials.  Keep in mind that these trials are testing the safety and effectiveness of new treatments or new applications of old treatments.  There is no guarantee that these treatments will work and there is no guarantee that there won’t be significant side effects associated with them.

One of the major risk factors that keeps most mesothelioma patients from actively enrolling in clinical trials is the fact that the treatment may not be effective and while they are “wasting time” in a trial, they’re ignoring other treatments that could potentially help them live longer and happier lives.  However, most patients considering clinical trials have already tried some type of traditional therapy without much success and are looking for an alternative.

Indeed, one of the eligibility qualifications to participate in many mesothelioma clinical trials is that patients must have already been treated once, possibly even twice, with traditional methods of treatment. 

Clinical Trials Require Commitment

Another consideration for patients is that participating in a clinical trial can require a significant commitment.  Enrolling means that the patient agrees to the constraints of the study and may have to endure additional time, travel, loss of income, payments from their own pockets (though insurance may pay for some or all of these experimental treatments.)  Indeed, many studies require patients either be hospitalized in certain facilities or agree to regular (monthly, weekly, or even daily) observation, testing, and treatment.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are considering enrolling in a clinical trial, assessing the safety is made significantly easier with the help of your health care professionals and mesothelioma doctors, who will review your entire medical history and be able to inform you of any known side effects or risks.  

Mesothelioma doctors have access to some of the most complete medical trial databases available, however, there are several on-line places that patients and their family members can access for information, such as the National Cancer Institute’s (http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials) and the National Institute of health’s database (http://clinicaltrials.gov/).

Questions to Ask Before Enrolling in a Clinical Trial

An individual patient’s doctor is the best resource when considering clinical trials.  They can help individuals answer questions and come up with ones they should ask.  However, here are a few that every mesothelioma clinical trial patient should ask:

  • How is the treatment different from what’s already available to me?
  • Are there any known side effects I should be aware of?
  • Is there anything in my medical history that would exclude me from this trial?
  • How long will this trial run for, including follow up observation?
  • What sort of testing will I be subject to?
  • Will this trial require my hospitalization or temporary relocation?
  • Will my insurance cover any (or all) of the associated expenses of this trial?
  • Are there any alternate funds available to cover me if my insurance won’t pay?
  • Can I opt out at any time?

Clinical Trial Safeguards to Reduce Risk

There are several safeguards in place to protect the health and well-being of clinical trial participants, such as pre-stage trials that don't involve human patients,  but due to the experimental nature of the therapies involved, there is always a risk.  Another form of protection for the patient is that clinical trials are most often overseen by major cancer research organizations like the National Cancer Institute or the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.  They’re also required to be approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB). 

An IRB is a group of researchers and scientists from the institution at which the clinical trial is to be conducted, such as a hospital or medical school.  These individuals are required to assess the outline ahead of time and decide whether or not there has been enough effort put into minimizing the risk to participants.  Only after the IRB gives the green light can a clinical trial begin.  Additionally, the majority of clinical trials taking place inside the U.S. are registered with the United States Government and must adhere to standard medical procedural protocols. 

Covering the Cost of Mesothelioma Treatment

One way to cover the cost of mesothelioma treatment is to file a mesothelioma lawsuit and/or bankruptcy claim against the manufacturers of the asbestos that caused your illness.  Asbestos companies knew for decades that asbestos kills, and yet did nothing to warn or protect workers and the public.  Cancer treatment is very costly, and there is no reason you should take on the additional burden of medical bills or limit your treatment options because of financial reasons. 

We have been helping asbestos victims and their families to get the best possible treatment and not have to worry about finances for over three decades.  If you are worrying about the security of your family due to your diagnosis, contact us today at 415-332-4262 to find out how we can help.