A commentary by an international team of researchers raises some concerns about how clinical cancer trials are conducted.
The authors of the commentary hail from Israel, Italy, Ireland, and the United States. They claim that there is a need for better balance between the cost of new cancer drugs and their actual benefit to patients.
The authors came to this conclusion after analyzing clinical trials for treatments for pleural mesothelioma.
Gold Standard for Mesothelioma Treatments
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer. It most often appears in older adults and is caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a toxic material that can be found in industrial and consumer products.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a specific type of mesothelioma. It develops in the thin layer of tissue that covers the lungs and chest wall.
Treatment for mesothelioma usually involves a multimodal approach. This means that more than one type of treatment is used to reduce the amount of cancer in a patient’s body.
The gold standard for multimodal treatment for mesothelioma is surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
The problem is mesothelioma’s long latency period. It can take decades after asbestos exposure for cancer symptoms to emerge in a patient. This gives the mesothelioma tumors a long time to spread throughout the body. Once the cancer has spread too much, it is very difficult to completely remove all of the diseased tissue.
Because of this, there has been a lot of research into less invasive and more effective treatment options for mesothelioma.
The authors of this new commentary argue that these treatments are too expensive for patients and health care systems. And that they do not provide enough positive outcomes to justify the cost.
Stronger Clinical Trials Needed
The authors examined existing clinical trials on potential treatments for mesothelioma. They discovered that the methods used in these trials were not always strong enough to produce high-quality results.
The authors are concerned because these trials are being used to make clinical decisions about mesothelioma therapies.
“The over-hype of such flawed trials can result in pressure on health care systems to provide these expensive agents,” say the authors.
The commentary concludes that more high-quality studies are needed to justify the use of new treatments for mesothelioma.
Meirson T, Nardone V, Pentimalli F, et al. Analysis of new treatments proposed for malignant pleural mesothelioma raises concerns about the conduction of clinical trials in oncology. J Transl Med. 2022;20(1):593. Published 2022 Dec 13. doi:10.1186/s12967-022-03744-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9749371/