A Guide to Clinical Trials for Veterans

3 Min Read

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Mesothelioma is a challenging disease to defeat, but cancer researchers continue to explore options that will make this fight easier on patients. Clinical trials for veterans give patients access to emergening therapies, revitalizing their fight against mesothelioma.

Improving Access to Clinical Trials for Veterans

Traditionally veterans have had difficulty accessing clinical trials because VA hospitals weren’t connected to facilities associated with the National Cancer Institutes (NCI) — central locations for major cancer research. Fortunately, a new interagency program called NAVIGATE has been established for veterans to help bridge access between NCI treatment centers and new therapies coming from clinical trials.

Clinical trials have many benefits for veterans with mesothelioma including:

  • Opportunity to try new treatments and therapies
  • Ability to take a proactive approach to fight mesothelioma
  • Help cancer researchers better understand the disease
  • Potentially help future mesothelioma patients receive treatment
  • Help protect future generations from diseases like mesothelioma
  • Better access to medical experts and more frequent check-ups
  • Improved access to support groups and other supplemental health services

NAVIGATE helps veterans access these benefits through clinical trial programs at leading cancer research facilities around the country. The program allows NCI experts to perform their research at VA hospitals, enabling veterans to participate directly in new research opportunities, while still maintaining their VA benefits.

“By increasing enrollment in cancer clinical trials, VA and veterans will be contributing to important oncology research,” said VA Chief Research and Development Officer Rachel Ramoni. “This will not only help our veterans, but also advance cancer care for all Americans, and people around the world.”

While veterans may consider participating in mesothelioma clinical trials, many clinical trials don’t involve mesothelioma. Clinical trials study a wide range of topics, including veterans’ overall health and wellbeing, PTSD and other veteran-specific health issues. Veterans are always empowered to decide what types of clinical trials they are comfortable participating in.

How Can Veterans Access Clinical Trials?

Clinical trials can be accessed through NAVIGATE, which is an acronym for NCI And VA Interagency Group to Accelerate Trials Enrollment program. Veterans who are interested in participating in clinical trials should talk to their doctor.

Doctors can help veterans discuss the pros and cons of participating in clinical trials, determine whether the patient is a good candidate and help them volunteer and enroll in a clinical trial.

What Are Clinical Trials?

Clinical trials are formal research performed by scientists on a variety of topics. Clinical trials are meant to measure and evaluate a treatment or other form of intervention to determine whether it has a safe, positive impact on the patient.

There are dozens of active trials that intentionally include veterans, and these trials cover a wide array of conditions and topics. For example, VA clinical trials for veterans include:

  • National Adaptive Trial for PTSD-related Insomnia
  • Can Service Dogs Improve Activity and Quality of Life in Veterans with PTSD?
  • Exoskeleton Assisted-Walking in Persons with SCI: Impact on Quality of Life
  • Lithium for Suicidal Behavior in Mood Disorders
  • Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial
  • Adjuvant Therapy in Prostate Carcinoma Treatment (CAP)

Some clinical trials require veterans to have specific conditions, while others recruit based on personal history or experience. Veterans who are considering participating in a trial may have several options to choose from.

Where Can Veterans Access Clinical Trials?

NAVIGATE currently operates out of VA facilities in 12 locations:

  • Atlanta, GA - Atlanta VA Health Care System
  • Bronx, NY - James J. Peters VA Medical Center
  • Charleston, SC - Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
  • Denver, CO - VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System
  • Durham, NC - Durham VA Medical Center
  • Hines, IL - Edward Hines Jr VA Hospital
  • Long Beach, CA - Tibor Rubin VA Medical Center
  • Minneapolis, MN - Minneapolis VA Health Care Center
  • Palo Alto, CA - VA Palo Alto Health Care System
  • Portland, OR - Portland VA Medical Center
  • San Antonio, TX - Audie L. Murphy VA Hospital / South Texas Veterans Health Care System
  • West Haven, CT - VA Connecticut Healthcare System

Individuals who are already being treated at one of these locations can enroll locally. Veterans with mesothelioma may also access clinical trials outside of the NAVIGATE program through the VA mesothelioma programs at Los Angeles VA and Boston VA.

Clinical Trials Offer Hope to Veterans

Veterans who thought their treatment options were limited may find hope and reassurance in clinical trials. Clinical trials help veterans fight back against their diagnosis while trying innovative treatments and improving the world’s understanding of medical issues impacting veterans.

Veterans who are interested in participating in NAVIGATE or other clinical trial opportunities should talk to a VA-Accredited Claims Agent. Contact the Mesothelioma Veterans Center today to learn more about VA benefits and gain access to clinical trials for veterans and the most comprehensive treatment options available.

Veterans Support Team
Christopher Dryfoos PhotoWritten by:

Contributing Author

Christopher Dryfoos is a journalist and member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). As the grandson of the U.S. Navy’s first forensic pathologist, he aims to help veterans with mesothelioma access needed care.

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