Carbon Ion Therapy Proves Effective Against Mesothelioma Tumors

An innovative therapy not currently available in the United States is showing great promise in the treatment of malignant mesothelioma, but despite these positive reports, there is no indication that it will be offered in the U.S. anytime soon. the protocol is called carbon ion therapy.

It was originally developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California back in the 1970s, but as a result of significant expense and the safety testing that would be required, its study never progressed here.

Instead, it is being offered in Germany, Italy, China, and Austria, as well as at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Japan, where more than 10,000 cancer patients have been treated with its help.

Carbon ion therapy has proven to be particularly effective at breaking down radiation resistant tumors like those found in mesothelioma.

The protocol’s carbon ions have more destructive power than that found in traditional X-rays, and when its use is combined with the chemotherapy drug cisplatin it has proven even more effective.

One of the reasons that carbon ion therapy shows such promise in the treatment of mesothelioma is that it has a much smaller risk of causing harm to the healthy tissue in which the mesothelioma tumors hide: where traditional radiation lingers in cells, the energy carried by the carbon ions disperse almost immediately after being absorbed by the cancer cells.

A recent study conducted in Japan concluded that, “Carbon ion beams combined with cisplatin has superior potential to kill malignant mesothelioma cells … with enhanced apoptosis.”

The researchers determined that the exciting new protocol causes the mesothelioma cells to release greater quantities of the chemicals that cause cell breakdown and death, thus yielding greater “relative biological effectiveness.”

The lack of availability of this type of treatment in the U.S. has caused great frustration, but an article in the journal Bioengineering Today revealed that the cost of a carbon ion therapy center would exceed $100 million, and would still not eliminate the challenges posed by FDA safety rules and testing requirements.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, word of effective treatment offers great hope. For more information on the many resources available to you, contact’s Patient Advocates today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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