The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved Alimta (pemetrexed disodium) for use in combination with cisplatin for the treatment of patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. It is the first drug approved for this condition.
Mesothelioma treatment can involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of the three. Malignant mesothelioma is, however, difficult to treat as it can spread quickly to nearby organs. Mesothelioma treatment is most successful if the disease is diagnosed at an early stage. A staging system is used to determine just how advanced the case is.
In stage 1, the disease has only spread as far as the pleura. At this stage, tests are done to make sure the cancer has not spread, and to check if the lungs and heart are functioning well. If the patient is young and healthy, aggressive surgery can be attempted. This is high-risk surgery and involves the removal of the pleura, the lung, the diaphragm and the pericardium. Radiation or chemotherapy is commonly done post-surgery to eliminate any remaining tumor cells. In heated intraoperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy, surgery is followed by the direct administration of a chemotherapy agent, heated to between 40 and 48°C, in the abdomen. This can increase the penetration of the drugs into tissues. Moreover, the damage produced by heat is greater to cancerous cells than to normal cells.
In stage two of mesothelioma, the cancer has reached the chest wall. By stage three it has affected the diaphragm. In stage four there are signs of metastases spreading through the bloodstream. If surgery is undertaken during these stages, it is generally only for relief of symptoms. A needle may be inserted into the chest to drain the fluid, relieving breathlessness and pain. Talc may be injected into the pleural space to stop fluid from accumulating. Or the pleura may be surgically removed to alleviate the pain. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can also be used to relieve the symptoms.
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Research and studies continue in the pursuit of a cure for Mesothelioma. This is where we try to find and innovate creative new treatment plans, remedies and solutions for coping, dealing and addressing the disease and the quality of life for patients suffering from this disease. It robs the patients of their very precious breaths of life.
Evaluation of new treatment effectiveness, therapies and related medications or medical interventions is ongoing and for most doctors and specialists in this field a passionate and urgent, as well as serious pursuit and commitment is unquestionable. The race is on to find a cure for this rare type of cancer.
The newest technology and procedures are being tested in experimental conditions and clinical trials and progress is being made, albeit small steps at a time. We keep unraveling the mystery and deadly secrets of this killer cancer.
Here are some examples of some of the progress and ongoing studies underway at present:
More than one treatment at a time approaches have proven successful. Mixed results at times just deepens the complexity of these diseases, making it obvious that there is more here than meets the eye. Drug cocktails and mixes are tested in clinical trials on real patients and the results published in medical journals. Most of the patients respond well to the treatments and feel that they are doing their part to forward the science and treatment of themselves, but also many others.
Invasive and aggressive internal treatment, by applying the treatment drugs or chemo elements directly into the cavities (like a concentrated and much higher dose, localized) This is done and has been successful, with minimal side effects and the results look promising. It actually reduces the damage significantly and controls the spread somewhat. It holds promise for more experiments and clinical trials in years to come.
Brachytherapy or radiation (radio-active) treatments are placed directly into the chest or peritoneal cavities.
Multimodality therapies where combination treatments and methods are used surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to optimize a patient’s chances for a successful outcome and surviving the disease, have a quality of life in their final days and even die with dignity and manage pain associated with the progressive nature of the disease.
This is a revolutionary and experimental form of Mesothelioma treatment. It consists of a genetically and manufactured virus to counter the effects of the disease, ,repair the damage and stop the progression. It attacks the tumors and cancerous areas, stains, all in an attempt to intervene and cure.
Giving patients a fighting change and improving their quality of life, these approaches typically focuses on giving the immune system a boost to fight the disease. It leverages the body’s natural ability to want to re-establish equilibrium and heal itself.
Photosensitive drugs are used to treat the tumors or affected area.
There are lots of other examples and always the hope that the cure is around the next corner! Pursuits and efforts in this area will continue.