Because the military made such extensive use of asbestos-contaminated materials in the years between World War II and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, veterans of America’s Armed Forces represent a significant proportion of mesothelioma patients. Many steps have to been taken to improve veterans’ ability to receive state-of-the-art treatment for the rare and deadly form of cancer, including an interagency collaboration between the VA and the National Cancer Institute to facilitate access to cancer clinical trials.
Clinical Trials for Malignant Mesothelioma Facilitate Extended Survival
Whether they are testing mesothelioma initiatives or other cancers, clinical trials investigate the effectiveness and safety of innovative treatment protocols that have not yet been approved for the general public. Though this may seem like a risky option, the treatments being tested have already yielded positive results in laboratory settings, and in many cases improve quality of life and extend survival.
Where mesothelioma clinical trials had largely been unavailable to veterans through the VA, in 2018 the National Cancer Institute and VA Interagency Group to Accelerate Trial Enrollment (NAVIGATE) program was created to increase the number and variety of clinical trials available to the nation’s veterans through their dedicated health centers.
NAVIGATE Program Offers More Options for Veterans with Mesothelioma
In forming the program, the NCI and VA have made a real difference for veterans with mesothelioma and other challenging cancers. According to Sara Schiller, MPH, national program manager for the program, “NAVIGATE has greatly increased the cancer clinical trials available to Veterans within the VA system,” increasing enrollment, creating a national network of sites where clinical trials are offered, and building capacity to offer more trials in the future.
The twelve VA sites that are currently offering access to clinical trials have already enrolled 354 patients in 170 studies. According to oncologist Dr. Daphne Friedman, “Cancer clinical trials today create standard treatments for tomorrow.” They are safe, offer access to cutting-edge technology, and ensure that future patients will receive better and more effective treatment.
If you or someone you love needs information on enrolling in a clinical trial for malignant mesothelioma, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608