One of the biggest problems with treating any type of cancer is trying to limit the chances of the disease coming back. Italian scientists have come up with an ingenious way of concentrating the therapy on a specific area.
The standard course of treatment for pleural mesothelioma patients is radiation followed by surgery and then intravenous chemotherapy drugs. The procedure has limited success in preventing recurrence and has also the downside of making patients suffer the toxic side effects of the drugs, reducing their quality of life.
One emerging alternative solution comes from Italy and involves placing a polymer film coated with cancer drugs, pemetrexed and cisplatin, directly on the mesothelial surface right after the operation. This method has shown very little toxic side effects and allows for higher concentration drugs to be administered.
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of asbestos-related cancers and affects the outer lining of the lungs and inner lining of the chest cavities. It has a long period of latency and can take from 20 to 50 years to manifest, after initial exposure.
The study suggests that “The local administration of drug-loaded polymer implants appears an ideal chemotherapy strategy especially for patients in which surgery is already selected as a viable therapeutic option.”
The material is hydrophilic, thin and flexible and at the same time sufficiently resistant to be inserted intrapleurally. It only takes about two hours for the drugs to permeate the tissue.
It is these sorts of targeted treatments that will provide the best results both in terms of efficiency and when it comes to patient safety and wellbeing.