Mesothelioma is an aggressive and fast-moving cancer most commonly associated with asbestos exposure. When it first emerged in the national consciousness in the late 70s and early 80s, the prognosis was never good. Most mesothelioma victims could expect to live between 12 and 18 months and there was no discussion of long-term survival.
Now new treatments are starting to change these outcomes, giving new hope for mesothelioma victims and their families. Learn more about the traditional approach to battling mesothelioma and some of the latest treatment options that are being used.
The traditional approach
The traditional approach to treating mesothelioma has been some combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation depending on where the mesothelioma is located. Chemotherapy is always recommended. The most effective drugs are cisplatin (platinol) and alimta (pemetrexed). Individuals with peritoneal mesothelioma may also benefit from heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy or HIPEC. Radiation is usually used in combination with these other surgeries in an attempt to shrink tumors.
While each of these treatments alone or used in combination with one another can help slow the progression of mesothelioma, they generally are not successful in eliminating mesothelioma altogether.
New treatment options
Recently clinical trials and other research have brought new hope for people battling mesothelioma. According to the American Cancer Society and the National Institutes of Health, new treatment options are improving the outcomes of people with mesothelioma. These include:
· Cerdiranib (Recentin) ¾ Another form of chemotherapy, cerdiranib works by starving the tumor. It blocks both enzymes and blood flow that is needed for the tumor to grow. Studies indicate that it works best when combined with traditional chemotherapies.
· Targeted therapy ¾ Targeted therapy focus on attacking the processes in cells that cause cancer. The benefit of these types of treatments is that they may work where other treatments do not. Sunitinib (Sutent) is a drug that has been used to slow down the production of cancer cells. It works by starving cancer cells of blood and nutrients.
· Photodynamic therapy ¾ This treatment option works by injecting a drug into the bloodstream that is photo-sensitive. The drug attaches mainly to cancer cells. When activated by light, it kills the cancer cell. It is most often used with patients battling pleural mesothelioma.
· Biological therapy ¾ Unlike most treatments, which directly affect cancer cells, biological therapies are vaccines and bacteria that stimulate the body’s immune system to fight the cancer. Biological therapies have also been used to counteract some of the side-effects of chemotherapy.
· Gene therapy ¾ Another targeted form of treatment involves using viruses to change the genes in cancerous cells, making them easier to eliminate. Some gene therapies also stimulate the immune system to attack cancer cells.
These new therapies are providing hope for people diagnosed with mesothelioma. They are giving people more time and in some cases improving the quality of life for people battling mesothelioma. While more research is needed, these new therapies are making a difference for many.
Individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma should talk to an attorney as soon as possible to discuss available options. An attorney can be an invaluable resource when you are trying to determine the next step.