Mesothelioma, a rare cancer affecting the tissue on the outside of the lungs, is strongly associated with exposure to asbestos. Though we know what causes most cases, doctors are still researching and testing the best forms of treatment for this particular kind of cancer. As it stands, it is not uncommon for the surgery for peritoneal mesothelioma to take upwards of 12 hours to perform.

However, doctors and researchers are constantly working to find better, less invasive treatment options. To this end, if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be a good candidate for a mesothelioma clinical trial.

What Is a Clinical Trial?

To get FDA approval for new treatments, including experimental drugs, new diagnostic techniques and tools, and other treatments, a clinical trial must be conducted. This trial will look at a treatment’s effectiveness in comparison with current treatments, as well as its overall safety for the patient.

In most trials, participants are put in one of two or three groups. The experimental group will receive the experimental treatment, while the control group receives the treatment currently used. In some cases, a third control group is added, and they are given a placebo treatment. However, this is rare in cancer studies. In all clinical trials, none of the groups will know whether they are getting the new, old, or placebo treatments. This rules out any placebo effect or bias.

Why Participate?

People who participate in mesothelioma clinical trials have many reasons, all very personal. Some patients participate in hopes that the new treatment will work for them and that they will have early access to helpful drugs and treatments. Others, knowing that they will either be treated as they normally would or with a new treatment, are interested in advancing the field of mesothelioma treatment to help future patients.

There is very little risk involved in participating in a clinical trial, as the treatments being studied have been thoroughly tested and deemed safe for humans. However, the American Cancer Society (ACS) still recommends that you examine your reasons for participating or not participating.

The ACS recommends that you take time to answer a list of questions for yourself, including why you want to participate and what your goals and expectations are. They also ask that you consider the risks versus the benefits, external factors (e.g. time off work, money, etc.), and other options for treatment.

Clinical trials are the basis for making new treatments available to patients all over the world. Participating in them is beneficial to potentially millions of patients like you. However, you are never obligated to participate, as it is a very serious and personal decision.