April 14, 2014
Mesothelioma treatments have come a long way over the years, yet the disease still remains one of the most aggressive forms of cancer in the world. Oncologists, researchers, and scientists collectively agree that a disease this aggressive must also be handled aggressively. As such, these specialists advocate adopting a multi-modality approach to treatment to include newer therapies and innovative new technologies that offer mesothelioma patients the best chance of long-term survival. In fact, researchers at Universiteit Antwerpen in Belgium recently published an article in the European Respiratory Journal which stated, “Single modality therapy does not have a major impact on long-term survival.” While current research does not discount conventional forms of treatment such as standard chemotherapy drugs, radiation therapy, and surgery, the research team says newer therapies “are among those that are most likely to have a positive impact in the treatment of mesothelioma.” Some of the most promising newer therapies currently being explored include:
- Gene Therapy
- Hyperthermic Intrapleural Chemotherapy
- Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI):
Gene Therapy attempts to add new genes to cancer cells to make them easier to kill. One approach to gene therapy uses special viruses that have been modified in the lab. The virus is injected into the pleural space and infects the mesothelioma cells. Early studies have found that this approach may shrink or slow the growth of mesothelioma in some people.
Hyperthermic Intrapleural Chemotherapy
Hyperthermic Intrapleural Chemotherapy aims to make cancer cells at the pleural surface more sensitive to radiation and chemotherapy or to damage other cancer cells that radiation has been ineffective at harming.
Immunotherapy may help prompt the immune system to attack the cancer. In one approach, immune cells are removed from a patient’s blood and treated in the lab to get them to react to tumor cells. The immune cells are then given back to the patient as blood transfusions, where it is hoped they will cause the body’s immune system to attack the cancer.
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) involves injecting a light-activated drug into a vein. The drug spreads throughout the body and tends to collect in cancer cells. A few days later (usually just after surgery for the mesothelioma), a special red light on the end of a tube is placed into the chest cavity. The light causes a chemical change that activates the drug and causes the cancer cells to die. Because the drug is only active in the areas exposed to the special light, this approach may cause fewer side effects than the use of drugs that spread throughout all tissues of the body. In addition to safety and effectiveness, these newer, experimental therapies are currently being tested in clinical trials for their effectiveness in reducing the likelihood of malignant mesothelioma tumors returning.
For in-progress, currently recruiting, and completed mesothelioma clinical trials, visit ClinicalTrials.gov — a service of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, the attorney’s at Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli, P.C. can help. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation at 800-782-8492 (toll-free) or email us. We look forward to discussing your case.
- 100 Questions & Answers About Mesothelioma, Second Edition
Harvey I. Pass, MD, NYU School of Medicine and Clinical Cancer Center
- American Cancer Society (ACS)
- Clinical Trials.gov–a service of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) ClinicalTrials.gov
- Mesothelioma Community
- U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH), PubMed (European Respiratory Journal article published/PubMed ahead of print) NCBI.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed