Mesothelioma Clinical Trials

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Mesothelioma is a very serious disease. It is a rare but highly aggressive form of cancer that is rooted in the mesothelium – the thin lining that surrounds the lungs, heart and other organs. It is almost always caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos fibers enter the lungs and lodge themselves there and in the mesothelium that surrounds the pleural cavity – the small open space between the lungs and the ribcage. There, they damage the normal cells and turn them into cancer.

Mesothelioma is currently incurable. In fact, anyone who has an asbestos-related disease, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis, will probably have that disease until it takes their life. That is not to say that there is no way to improve a patient\'s life or to lengthen the amount of time they have until they die – many treatments exist that can improve the quality of life of mesothelioma patients. Moreover, many new treatments are currently undergoing clinical trials by scientists and doctors all over the world.

What is a clinical trial?
Clinical trials are simply tests conducted on populations of human beings to study various hypotheses. If a study was aiming to test the potential effects of a specific drug, then a very simple version of a clinical trial might be to give half of the group the drug and half of the group a placebo. Then after a certain amount of time had passed the two groups would be compared and if one group had a marked difference in their symptoms, then it would be reasonable for the study to conclude that the difference was caused by the presence of the drug in their system.
This is an extremely simple example of a clinical trial. Modern ones tend to be much more involved. More work is taken to ensure that outside factors among the groups are equal and most work is also performed using the "double blind" structure, meaning that neither the patients nor the researchers know who is taking the real drug and who is taking the placebo.
For clinical trials in the United States, researchers need to adhere to several Food and Drug Administration guidelines. The trials need to undergo three phases before a drug or treatment can be approved for use on the general public. The first phase generally tests the limits of a drug or treatment a small group of participants can withstand before having bad side effects. This lets researchers know how much of the treatment can be given safely. The second phase determines the effect of a treatment on a particular disease or condition. The third phase compares the treatment with a standard treatment in a large group of affected individuals to see if the treatment is better than or improves upon current options.

Can I be involved in a clinical trial?
Yes – there are dozens of clinical trials that are ongoing across the country. Many of these are actively searching for patients with mesothelioma for participants. These clinical trials can\'t promise any particular outcome, but there is a chance that they can help fight the cancer or make your life better. Participants are generally compensated with a small part of the research grant money. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, have a poor prognosis, and your cancer isn\'t responding to traditional treatment options, you may want to volunteer for a clinical trial. You may get paid to receive a viable treatment. More importantly, your participation may help researchers find new treatments that might help hundreds of patients in the future. Talk to your doctor about finding a clinical trial that\'s right for you.

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