Latest Chemotherapy Updates to Treat Mesothelioma
By Kathy Cooke. 28th November 2016
There was a recent study in the USA presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology
The study investigated the treatment of more than 1,600 mesothelioma patients that concluded that those treated with chemotherapy tend to live longer than those who aren't.
The study was carried out from 2005 to 2009 and included data about the size and shape of the mesothelioma tumours as well as the age, sex and level of asbestos exposure. They analysed types of treatments to determine which chemotherapy treatment patterns lead to the best mesothelioma survival rates.
The Mesothelioma Treatment Results
The study found that:
- The average age of the patient was 78 when first diagnosed
- 45% of patients were treated with chemotherapy, 30% had surgery
- Most common chemotherapy treatment (67%) was Pemetrexed combined with Cisplatin or Carboplatin
- Pemetrexed with Cisplatin or Carboplatin was most often used for second-line chemotherapy treatment
- Average survival rate was 7 months for patients who had chemotherapy
- Average survival rate was 1 year for those treated with second-line chemotherapy
The study concluded that chemotherapy still offered the best chance at a longer life following a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Jennifer Lynn Beebe-Dimmer (Wayne State University Medical School) added:
“ Irrespective of surgical resection, mesothelioma patients receiving some form of chemotherapy survived longer than patients who did not, with an additional survival benefit among those patients receiving multimodal treatment ”
Ribonucleic acid (RNA) and Mesothelioma
Researchers in Japan have manipulated RNA in mice to see if it can boost chemotherapy and prolong life in victims of mesothelioma.
Ribonucleic acid is a molecule that acts as a messenger, carrying and translating instructions from DNA that control critical cellular processes, from metabolism to replication and cell death (apoptosis).
The team of doctors at Tokushima University’s Institute of Health Biosciences reprogrammed the RNA using specially designed molecules to improve the effectiveness of the chemotherapy agents such as Pemetrexed. This was given to the mesothelioma-infected mice by embedded the RNA molecule in a tiny fat bubble which was then coated with polyethylene glycol and injected into the mice.
The team are speculating that injecting the treatment throughout the body as well as into the mesothelioma tumours may extend the clinical utility of Pemetrexed in treating mesothelioma. This, if proved, could improve the odds of survival for many victims of mesothelioma.
The Timing of Chemotherapy
The timing of chemotherapy can vary widely, particularly in patients who also have surgery. Chemotherapy can be used before surgery to reduce the size of the tumor before being surgically removed and after surgery to kill any mesothelioma cells that may be left behind.
Tests were carried out recently at the University Hospital in Leicester on over 200 pleural mesothelioma patients. 81 had lung-removing mesothelioma surgery, the rest had extended pleurectomy-decortication which leaves the lungs intact.
It was found that the timing of chemotherapy did not affect survival in patients with Epithelioid Mesothelioma, the most common subtype. However where patients had Sarcomatoid or Biphasic mesothelioma, where mesothelioma can spread to the lymph nodes, the timing did matter.
When the study included the 169 mesothelioma patients who were treated with chemotherapy prior to surgery, the sickest non-epithelioid patients lived longer if their post surgical treatment was not delayed.
Kathy Cooke MA. BSc
Cancer consultant and advisor
Kathy has worked in the cancer field for over 30 years. She was course leader for the MSc in Radiotherapy and Oncology at University of Hertfordshire. Then pre-treatment radiotherapy manager at the Cromwell Hospital in London and Partnership Quality Lead for Macmillan Cancer Support.. Read more >