Emerging Treatments for Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer characterized by long latency periods, nonspecific symptoms, and often, aggressive growth. Despite these challenges, dedicated researchers and scientists (working with the Mesothelioma Cancer Network) continue to develop/improve current diagnostic testing and therapy options. Recent developments show promising results that may ultimately lead to a cure for mesothelioma.

And while no cure for malignant forms of mesothelioma has been discovered to date, patients are now given longer life expectancies using multimodal treatment options. This treatment plan combines more than one type of cancer treatment.

Emerging Cancer Treatments for Mesothelioma

Single treatment options for mesothelioma patients tend to offer limited success, with most survival prognoses lasting no more than twelve months. However, multimodal treatments have been quite effective in improving patient’s survival rates.

In general, a multimodal emerging treatment approach typically includes these therapy types –

  • Chemotherapy – considered the most effective treatment option. Information is available through the mesothelioma cancer network.
  • Surgery
  • Radiation.
  • Immunotherapy (experimental).
  • Gene Therapy.
  • Photodynamic Therapy.

Multimodal therapy utilizes a primary form of treatment but augments this treatment to improve a patient’s survival chances. These additional therapies and treatment options are given as follows –

  • Primary Therapyis the treatment that is deemed to offer the patient the best outcome, which is often, in this case of mesothelioma, surgery.
  • Neo-Adjuvant Therapy– is provided to enhance the primary treatment and is generally given before the primary treatment is received.
  • Adjuvant Therapy–  is provided to reduce the risk of the mesothelioma from reoccurring and is provided when the primary treatment is complete.

It is noted that multimodal mesothelioma treatment therapies are not suitable for every patient diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer. However, other emerging treatments may help improve a mesothelioma patient’s prognosis. These include –

Immunotherapy – is being tested in clinical trials and is designed to stimulate the mesothelioma patient’s immune system enough to kill the cancer cells. However, immunotherapy cannot cure mesothelioma, but it has been successfully implemented as a management therapy. Immunotherapy treatments help a patient’s immune system differentiate between a healthy and a cancerous cell. This then allows the body to identify and target mesothelioma tumors.

Gene Therapy – is being tested in clinical trials. Gene therapy introduces new genes to a mesothelioma patient’s body. Gene therapy is designed to invade and target mesothelioma tumors. Gene therapy seeks to replace/repair genes that have been damaged due to asbestos exposure. Further testing is needed, however.

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) – is being tested in clinical trials. Photodynamic Therapy introduces drugs that are activated by light to target cancer cells. A laser light acts as a trigger to a chemical reaction that happens to the introduced drugs.

The Bottom-Line

In October, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved a drug to treat mesothelioma, (its first approval for a mesothelioma medicine in about 15 years) which has increased patients’ life expectancy.  And while complete remission is tremendously rare, there are partial remission outcomes for some mesothelioma patients.

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