Understanding clinical trials

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may consider participating in a clinical trial.

Generally, clinical trials test experimental drugs and treatments and aim to develop new ways of detecting and diagnosing a disease. Doctors use clinical trials to determine whether a new treatment works and is safeā€”in fact, all new drugs and devices must go through a clinical trial before they are approved by the FDA.

Clinical trials testing new drugs for the treatment of cancer often compare the effectiveness of the new drug with the current standard of treatment. In this type of clinical trial, some participants receive the new drug, while other participants receive the current standard of treatment. In rare cases, a placebo, a substance having no pharmacological effect but given merely to satisfy a patient who supposes it to be a medicine, may be used to determine whether the new treatment is more effective than having no treatment at all. Clinical trials are usually randomized, meaning a participant cannot choose whether you receive the new treatment drug or otherwise.

The decision to participate in a clinical trial is a personal one. A person might decide to join a clinical trial for a number of reasons, such as a desire to help advance treatments to fight cancer or in order to have access to a new experimental drug or treatment.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are considering participating in a clinical trial, please discuss it with your doctor. Your doctor will help you assess the benefits and risks and can recommend one that best fits your individual situation.

The American Cancer Society recommends that individuals who are considering participating in a clinical trial ask themselves the following questions:

  1. Why do I want to participate in a clinical trial?
  2. What are my goals and expectations if I decide to participate? Are my goals and expectations realistic?
  3. How sure are my doctors about what my future holds if I decide to participate and if I decide not to participate?
  4. Have I considered:
    • a. The chance of benefit versus risk?
    • b. Other possible factors such as time and money?
    • c. My other possible options?

If you are interested in participating, you can ask your doctor or hospital about clinical trials in your area. Additionally, you can also search your area using the website ClinicalTrials.gov, which is maintained by the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. Other options for finding clinical trials in your area are EmergingMed; CenterWatch; and The Center for Information & Study on Clinical Research Participation.