Concerning Side Effect Seen in Mesothelioma Patient Treated with Opdivo

The use of state-of-the-art medications holds tremendous hope for patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, but there are no sure things and no silver bullets. These new drugs have not been fully tested and can lead to deadly side effects. A recent report published by Australian researchers revealed that a patient treated with one of the most promising drugs suffered significant adverse effects.

Australian Report Reveals Adverse Side Effects for Pleural Mesothelioma Patient

According to research published in the journal Translational Lung Cancer Research, a man diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma received Opdivo after his chemotherapy treatments stopped being effective. The man developed concerning swelling of the heart and other muscles that persisted for months, long after the medication had been discontinued. 

The patient received two cycles of treatment with Opdivo, an immunotherapy drug that blocks the PD-L1 protein that helps mesothelioma cells avoid being detected by the immune system. Though he was fine following the first cycle, after the second he developed an inflammation of the muscles called myositis. The condition leads to pain, swelling and weakness. He later developed a life-threatening swelling of the heart muscle called myocarditis. Though he was treated with immunosuppressives and corticosteroids, months after the episode his levels of troponin, a protein present when the heart suffers an injury, remained elevated.

Opdivo Provided Brief Response from Mesothelioma Tumor

Making the concerns over the use of Opdivo even more concerning, the immunotherapy drug provided the affected mesothelioma patient with only limited benefit. Though other studies of Opdivo have called its side effects “manageable” for most patients, the side effects experienced by this patient are enough to give physicians pause about its use, especially in patients who are at risk for heart damage. Referencing these concerns, the researchers wrote, “Myocarditis and myositis are rare complications of immune checkpoint inhibitors. Clinicians should be aware of these possible complications as myocarditis can result in mortality.”

If you or someone you love needs information on available treatments for malignant mesothelioma, the Patient Advocates at can help. Contact us 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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