The Next Step in Mesothelioma Treatments


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At the moment, immunotherapy is at the forefront of cancer treatment innovation, with drugs like Keytruda or Opdivo managing remarkable success rates against lymphoma, breast, colon and even non-small cell lung cancers. Unfortunately, this has not been the case with less common types of the disease, but researchers believe that combining biologic therapy with current protocols could lead to significantly more effective procedures.

While malignant mesothelioma is one of the rarest forms of cancer (around 1 new case per 100.000 people), it is particularly aggressive and difficult to treat. Estimates from the World Health Organization say median survival after diagnosis is typically only 9 to 12 months.

Presently there is a multi-modality approach involving a mix of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, though doctors are hoping that immunotherapy could provide that final missing piece necessary to solving the problem. Immunotherapy works by enhancing the natural defenses of the body, giving antibodies the ability to locate and destroy cancerous cells. It has proven its ability to tackle some very serious diseases, now it is time to help other unfortunate patients.

Initial testing done at Princess Margaret Cancer Center in Toronto, Canada has been encouraging. Dr. Marc de Perrot noted that “Our group demonstrated that non-ablative, hypofractionated radiation can also have a major impact on the immune system in mesothelioma (…) hence, the combination of non-ablative hypofractionated radiation with targeted immunotherapy is a promising strategy for the near future in mesothelioma”.

It seems that this is the right path, though a number of details still remain to be figured out, for example, optimal volume and dose fractionation of radiation, the best  immunotherapy  agent  for  mesothelioma, the timing and sequencing of all the different treatment modalities etc.

The next evolution in mesothelioma treatments is slowly shaping up and it’s only a matter of time until we can see its effects.

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