Because the initial symptoms of mesothelioma – a rare but aggressively malignant form of lung cancer – are so mild, very few people catch it in its early stages. In fact, your symptoms in the early stages could be as light and few as some minor fatigue, a little bit of pain near the tumor, and/or shortness of breath.

Unfortunately, though, as is often the case, later stage symptoms become much more severe. By this time, though, the traditional treatments for mesothelioma and other forms of cancer (chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery) are usually not very effective or are too dangerous to perform. As a result, a mesothelioma diagnosis is all too often a death sentence.

However, clinical trials for mesothelioma show a great deal of hope for patients diagnosed with this painful and highly fatal form of cancer. Three clinical trials going on now raise particular hope for patients living with mesothelioma.

Treatment with HSV1716 via Intrapleural Administration

This clinical trial for mesothelioma patients is very interesting. Researchers have found that a crippled version of a virus (HSV1716) will actually replicate itself in tumor cells but not in normal, healthy cells. By injecting HSV1716 into the mesothelium (the lungs’ protective membrane), researchers are hoping to see it kill cancer cells and leave healthy cells alone.

Twelve patients have participated in an initial trial and have shown very low instances of side effects, and three patients have lived longer than expected since the trial. The findings point to success, and a larger clinical trial could occur in the very near future.

Cisplatin and Pemetrexed Disodium with/without Cediranib Maleate

Cisplatin and permetrexed disodium are both agents used in chemotherapy and are often employed in treating mesothelioma. This trial seeks to learn whether or not adding treatment with cediranib (another cancer treatment drug) could aid in increasing the survival rate of patients with mesothelioma. At its current phase, this trial is attempting to define the treatment’s side effects profile and determine the proper recommended doses.

Basically, cediranib is used to block the tumor from sending signals to the cells lining veins and arteries to make more blood vessels. Because tumors need blood flow to thrive and grow, a lack of blood vessels should cause the tumor to at least stop growing if not shrink and eventually die. Researchers involved with this study hope to see improved results with using a combination of chemotherapy and cediranib.

Treatment with VS-6063

This trial is designed to test the effectiveness of VS-6063 for killing mesothelioma cancer cells. Essentially, VS-6063 blocks the major signaling proteins in cancer stem cells. While other stem cells may still form cancerous cells, they are much less likely to, and killing cancer stem cells should theoretically eventually kill the tumor.

Like many clinical trials, this one is placebo-controlled, meaning that it has an experimental group and a placebo group. Neither group knows whether they are actually getting VS-6063 or whether they are getting placebo medication. This should effectively study the rate at which VS-6063 can inhibit the growth of a tumor and eventually kill it. This study is ongoing and is actually accepting participants throughout this year and into 2016.

Should You Participate in a Clinical Trial?

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and your current treatment regimen is not working to kill your tumor(s), you may be a great candidate for a clinical trial. In choosing whether or not to participate in one, you should ask yourself a few questions.

How do the potential benefits compare with the potential risks? Does this study stand to benefit you and others with mesothelioma? Does your physician recommend that you participate? What do you know about potential side effects and their likelihood? Answering these questions will give you a good idea as to whether participating in a trial is right for you.