If the treatments you've tried for mantle cell lymphoma aren't working or your cancer has returned, you may want to consider a clinical trial. It's a study that checks new drugs to see if they work better and have fewer side effects than ones people use now.
Who Can Join?
Each trial has guidelines on which types of people with mantle cell lymphoma can take part. Whether you're allowed to join depends on things like:
- How old you are
- Your gender
- The stage of your cancer
- Which treatments you've already tried
- Other diseases you have
Your doctor may be able to suggest a clinical trial in your area that's a good match for you.
What Are the Benefits?
A clinical trial can let you try new treatments before they become available to the public. The treatment you get might help you feel better or live longer. While you're in the trial you'll get checked by a medical team that will keep tabs on your health.
Taking part in a trial also gives you a chance to help other people with mantle cell lymphoma. If the treatment works well, the FDA could approve it in the future.
What Are the Downsides?
Often clinical trials test the standard cancer treatment against the new treatment. You may not know which one you're getting.
Even if you do get the new treatment, it might not work for you. It could have side effects or risks your doctors don't know about.
Treatment can be expensive, and studies don't always cover all the costs of care. You could have to pay for some of your tests or travel expenses.
What to Expect
Before you join a clinical trial, you'll have to sign an "informed consent" form. This document will explain:
- Why the study is being done
- What researchers know about the treatment
- Possible risks and benefits
- Types of tests and treatments you'll get
- Who will pay the costs of your tests and treatments
- How your health information will be kept private during the study
You'll start with blood tests and imaging tests to make sure you're the kind of person that can take part in the trial.
How to Decide if a Clinical Trial Is Right for You
Make sure you understand the pros and cons before you join. Some questions you should ask about the trial:
- What is the purpose of the research?
- How long will the trial last?
- What kinds of tests will I need?
- How does the new treatment work?
- How will the doctor know if my treatment is working?
- What side effects might it cause?
- What should I do if I have side effects?
- Who will pay for my tests, treatments, and travel costs?
- Who will be in charge of my care?
- Who can answer any questions I have during the trial?
Also think about how the trial will affect your daily life. Do you have time to travel to the hospital or clinic? Do you feel well enough to go through all the tests and treatments?
You're allowed to drop out of the clinical trial at any time. You can leave if the treatment doesn't work or you have side effects.
What if You Don't Qualify?
Sometimes you want to take part in a trial but the researchers don't think you're a good fit. Your doctor can ask the sponsor if you can get a special waiver to join the study. If they agree, you'll get the study treatment, but your information won't be included with the final results.
Another way to get the study drug is to ask the company sponsoring the trial for "compassionate use." This program makes drugs available to people who need them before they are approved by the FDA.