Immunotherapy represents one of the most promising new innovations in cancer treatment, with many people expressing optimism about the use of Keytruda and similar drugs, but for those researching treatments of malignant mesothelioma, initial reports have been less encouraging. Though headlines are being made about immunotherapy’s effectiveness in cancers like non-small cell lung cancer, lymphoma and skin cancer, the same has not necessarily been true with rarer, more aggressive cancers that have proven similarly resistant to traditional cancer treatments. Still, cancer researchers believe that the protocol’s potential for helping those with the asbestos-caused cancer has not yet been fully explored.
Malignant mesothelioma is one of the rarest forms of cancer. The fact that fewer than 3,000 people are diagnosed with the disease makes it particularly challenging for scientists to find a cure, as the pool of people available for clinical testing is so small. Making matters even more difficult is the fact that the illness is so aggressive that most victims die within two years of their diagnosis. While most patients are treated with a multi-modality protocol of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, researchers have also looked to the possibility of using the new immunotherapy drugs as an additional tool. The idea behind immunotherapy is to extract genetic code from an individual patient’s immune system, weaponizing it to search specifically and aggressively against their cancer and then return it to their body. Where the treatment has been successful, patients have seen remarkable activation of their immune response, but that has not necessarily been the case with mesothelioma.
In response to disappointing results in using immunotherapy in mesothelioma patients, researchers from the Princess Margaret Cancer Center in Toronto, Canada have been combining its use with hypofraactionated radiation therapy, and have found that it does improve upon the results that they are seeing. According to an editorial published by Dr. Marc de Perrot of Toronto General Hospital in the Journal of Thoracic Disease, “The combination of non-ablative hypofractionated radiation with targeted immunotherapy is a promising strategy for the near future in mesothelioma.” The researchers on his team have gone so far as to indicate that this approach may be the future of mesothelioma treatment.
If you are a patient diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and you are seeking information on the latest in treatment approaches, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can help. Contact us today to learn more – we can be reached at 1-800-692-8608.