As the novel coronavirus impacts everyone in the United States, the medical community has also responded, pivoting research and clinics toward treating the COVID-19 disease. Many facilities, resources and personnel previously dedicated to researching other conditions have shifted their efforts to meet the demands of this highly contagious disease.
Medical centers in Washington and elsewhere have suspended several clinical trials for treating mesothelioma. These trials offer those suffering from mesothelioma access to the latest drugs and technologies as these new treatments make their way through the Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) robust testing process.
A growing concern for asbestos victims
As there are no known cures for mesothelioma, these trials offer patients the best chance at treatment. Dr. Bernando Goulart is a doctor at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). His phase II clinical trials treat pleural mesothelioma by combining chemotherapy with a new drug. This study at SCCA is no longer recruiting.
Pleural mesothelioma accounts for 70% of all cases and has a life expectancy of only six to 12 months. It is also the type of mesothelioma contracted by most asbestos victims. With such a low life expectancy after diagnosis, these clinical trials represent a last hope for many families. Experts anticipate many states may keep stay-at-home orders in place for several months to come, delaying these trials even further. Many people suffering from mesothelioma may not have that time to wait.
Several trials are still underway, but these present challenges to patients willing to remain. Cancer treatments leave patients immunocompromised and susceptible to infection and disease. Traveling to a medical facility risks exposing these patients to the coronavirus, and potentially contributing to its spread.
The future of mesothelioma testing
Much remains uncertain for those suffering from mesothelioma. Once the pandemic subsides, trials may open back up and accept new applicants. Families with legal questions can contact a local lawyer familiar with mesothelioma to assess a potential claim.