SCCA plays a major role in promoting and participating in local and national clinical trials regarding mesothelioma. Many of the members of the mesothelioma team are playing a larger role in national clinical trials.
Medical researchers have recently discovered that removing the lung and the lining of the lung, followed by high-dose radiation therapy, is producing good survival rates in patients with early stage mesothelioma.
A new form of treatment called intraoperative photodynamic therapy uses special drugs to make cancer cells more sensitive to light. During surgery, a special light is used to shine on the pleura. This treatment is for early stages of mesothelioma in the chest.
Scientists are also investigating new methods of immunotherapy, which means using the body's own immune system to protect itself against disease, as well as new chemotherapy drugs, and combinations of treatments.
Not all patients are cured with standard therapy, and some standard treatments may have more side effects than are desired. Therefore, patients may seek help through a clinical trial. Patients who take place in clinical trials have the first chance to benefit from treatments that have shown promise in earlier research. They also make an important contribution to medical science by helping doctors learn more about the disease. Although clinical trials may pose some risk, researchers take careful steps to protect people who take part.
Clinical trials come in four phases.
- In Phase I trials, researchers try to determine safe dose levels
- In Phase II trials, which involve a larger group of patients, researchers hope to build on what they learned in the first phase by trying to establish whether cancers will respond to the safe dose levels and to determine what side effects will occur.
- In Phase III trials, researchers compare the experimental treatment with the standard treatment or a placebo to prove whether the new treatment is truly effective.
- In Phase IV trials, researchers monitor the effects of long-term usage.
For more information about clinical studies, see the Patient Guide to Clinical Trials which includes Myths vs Facts.