A mesothelioma diagnosis is gut-wrenching. Unfortunately for patients and their loved ones, there is no cure for this type of cancer. There are, however, treatment options that can extend someone’s prognosis or provide comfort during the end-stages of life.
While standard mesothelioma treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, there are alternatives for patients looking to help find a cure. Let’s take a look at what you need to know about mesothelioma clinical trials—including how they work, how to determine if you’re eligible to participate in one, and how to find one.
What Are Clinical Trials?
Clinical trials are controlled studies on patients that test to see if a new therapy approach is safe, effective, and better than the therapies and treatments that currently exist. Patients who participate in clinical trials not only provide valuable information and feedback, but they also give themselves the opportunity to receive the best treatments available.
As researchers continue to search for a cure for mesothelioma, clinical trials are a way to examine the benefits of potential treatments. Clinical trials are particularly helpful for late-stage mesothelioma patients whose cancer has been unresponsive to standard treatment options.
How Clinical Trial Drugs Get FDA Approval
Mesothelioma clinical trials can last weeks, months, or years. The length depends on the trial’s goal, the number of patients involved, and the overall results. In order to get approved by the FDA, however, most drugs have to pass through the following four phases:
- Phase I. A phase I trial involves the smallest number of people. At this stage, only a few dozen patients are likely to participate. The focus of this phase is to ensure the experimental therapy is safe. Researchers will look at the side effects, how the drug is processed by the body, and determine safe dosage levels.
- Phase II. During phase II, researchers take a closer look at the effectiveness of the new treatment. Treatments target the cancer cell type or stage of progression. It’s possible a few hundred patients could be involved at this point.
- Phase III. In phase III, the largest number of people are involved—sometimes in the thousands. This phase measures the effectiveness of the new treatment using randomization and blinded groups. This means that patients will unknowingly receive either the trial drug or a placebo. If the side effects are too severe, the study is terminated. If not, the dosage amounts are finalized.
- Phase IV. Once a drug makes it through the first three phases, the developer can file an application to market the drug. Even if the FDA approves the drug, a phase IV trial could be required. This ensures effectiveness after approval for commercial use.
Participating in a Mesothelioma Clinical Trial
To participate in a clinical trial, you have to first meet the eligibility requirements. Depending on the trial, the criteria could be broad or specific. If you’re interested in participating in a clinical trial, your mesothelioma specialist can help you find the right study for you. Once a study is found, your doctor will outline the specifications of the study and you can decide if you want to proceed.
If you’re looking to participate in a clinical trial for your mesothelioma, consider asking your doctor the following questions:
- What is the purpose of the clinical trial?
- What are the potential risks and benefits based on my specific illness?
- What are the potential side effects of participating in the study?
- Does the clinical trial require travel or hospitalization?
- Is the trial covered by my insurance? If not, what are the associated costs?
- What happens if I’m harmed as a result of the research?
- What other options do I have?
Once your questions have been answered, you’ve found a study you want to participate in and are eligible for, and you and your doctor believe it’s in your best interests to participate, you can begin preparing for your new treatments.
Current Clinical Trials for Mesothelioma
According to the National Cancer Institute, there are 54 ongoing clinical trials for mesothelioma in the United States as of July 2020. The trials are all in different phases and take place in different states. It’s not uncommon for a mesothelioma patient to have to travel to a different state than their own in order to participate in a clinical trial they’re eligible for.
In most cases, the clinical trials currently taking place are sponsored through government funding, university research, or pharmaceutical companies. The sponsorship a clinical trial receives can have an impact on insurance coverage and what a cancer patient has to pay out-of-pocket to participate.
Mesothelioma Clinical Trials in Hawaii
The University of Hawaii Cancer Center opened in 1981 on the island of Oahu in Honolulu. Fifteen years later, it received its National Cancer Institute designation. In order to find better treatment techniques and diagnostic tools for cancers like mesothelioma, the Cancer Center houses clinical trials.
As of April 2020, the University of Hawaii Cancer Center was recruiting mesothelioma patients for the Nivolumab and Ipilimumab in Treating Patients With Rare Tumors trial. This phase II trial is looking to see if immunotherapy with monoclonal antibodies can help the body’s immune system attack the cancer and interfere with the ability of tumor cells to grow and spread.
This, however, is not the only location in Hawaii that conducts clinical trials. The following locations are also recruiting for that particular study:
- Hawaii Cancer Care
- Pali Momi Medical Center
- Queen’s Cancer Center
- The Cancer Center of Hawaii
- Hawaii Cancer Care Inc – POB II
- Island Urology
- Queen’s Cancer Center – POB I
- Queen’s Medical Center
- Straub Clinic and Hospital
- Hawaii Cancer Care Inc – Liliha
- Kuakini Medical Center
- Queen’s Cancer Center – Kuakini
- The Cancer Center of Hawaii – Liliha
- Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center
- Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children
- Wilcox Memorial Hospital and Kauai Medical Clinic
Contact your physician to learn more about this trial or other trials you may be able to participate in.
Contact Frost Law Firm, PC
If you or a loved one is currently undergoing treatment for mesothelioma, it’s important to be aware of your legal rights and options. Mesothelioma develops as a result of either direct or indirect exposure to asbestos. Depending on how a person was exposed, it’s possible a claim could be filed to seek compensation for financial losses as well as pain and suffering.
To learn if you have grounds to take legal action, get in touch with Frost Law Firm, PC. We have extensive experience representing mesothelioma patients, and we’re prepared to take your case on next. When you initially meet with us, we’ll discuss your medical history as well as any potential exposure to asbestos. Once we have the information we need, we can begin building a claim that proves you are owed compensation. Contact us today to learn more.