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Photodynamic light therapy for pleural mesothelioma, part one

Last month, we wrote about a recent study at the University of Pennsylvania which indicated that a new combination of less-invasive mesothelioma treatments and surgical procedures may be more effective at treating pleural mesothelioma than the more radical lung removal surgery. Although much has yet to be learned about these new medical innovations, researchers are encouraged by the positive early results.

Because pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the deadly disease, making up approximately 70 percent of meso cases in Illinois and throughout the U.S., finding new methods of treatment has been a top priority for scientists and doctors that research the disease. Now, it appears that photodynamic therapy may become an essential part of the treatment regimen.

Pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive form of the disease that attacks the lining of the lung, also known as the pleura. Typically, mesothelioma patients survive only nine months to one year after a meso diagnosis, and those last few months of life are uncomfortable and painful.

Formerly, the disease was treated with a surgical procedure known as an extrapleural pneumonectomy, which involved the complete removal of one lung and its lining. However, that rarely halted the progression of the disease. Now, researchers are studying the combination of a less-radical pleurectomy that removes the diseased lining of the lung but leaves the lung itself, and photodynamic light therapy (PDT).

PDT is an experimental treatment that involves the injection of a drug into the patient that makes cancerous cells sensitive to certain wavelengths of light which cause photosensitizers to release a form of oxygen that kills cancer cells naturally. Because PDT light beams cannot pass through more than about one-third of an inch of tissue, it is commonly performed during surgery.

We will discuss the specifics of the University of Pennsylvania study in a second post later this week.

Source:, "Light-based Photo Therapy May Brighten Future of Pleural Mesothelioma Patients," 29 June 2011

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