Randomized controlled trials in malignant pleural mesothelioma surgery—mistakes made and lessons learned
Randomized surgical trials are of the most difficult to design and recruit, however, they are the only robust method available to establish a new surgical procedure. Mesothelioma is a disease with a perceived poor prognosis for which surgical intervention has relatively high complications and not insignificant mortality. This review will consider the mesothelioma and radical surgery (MARS) 1 and 2 trials, SAKK 17/04 trial and the EORTC 1205 trial all aimed at assessing the potential benefit of radical surgery for malignant pleural mesothelioma. In addition, MesoVATS and MesoTRAP will be explored assessing the value of debulking surgery for malignant pleural mesothelioma. We also endeavour to identify the mistakes made and the lessons learned which will inform future randomized controlled clinical trials in the field of malignant pleural mesothelioma. Despite the insurmountable problems with randomized controlled clinical trials, we show that they are possible and continuing with uncontrolled experiments will perpetuate unproven and potentially harmful operations.