As is true with so many other types of cancers, the first line of treatment for malignant mesothelioma is chemotherapy. Despite its many side effects, most mesothelioma patients receive chemotherapy as part of a multi-modality protocol that adds on surgery and/or radiation therapy. But as newer drugs are developed that approach cancer cells in different ways, there is a growing hope that chemotherapy will be replaced by treatments like immunotherapy that offer both longer survival and improved quality of life. That is already taking place for breast cancer and some lung cancers, and may soon be the case for the rare, asbestos-related disease.
Testing Mesothelioma Patients to Determine Best Outcomes
As more is understood about malignant mesothelioma, researchers have been able to identify genetic characteristics that indicate when a patient may derive greater benefit from immunotherapy than from chemotherapy, or when certain proteins on a cell’s surface may be targeted by a different type of drug action. This has led to new and better treatments for mesothelioma, including FDA approval of Opdivo and Yervoy, two monoclonal antibodies that, when combined, decrease tumor growth by enhancing T-cell function.
Not only does the introduction of new options for mesothelioma provide longer survival times, but it allows patients to avoid hair loss, nausea, fatigue, and the many other uncomfortable side effects that accompany chemotherapy protocols.
More Mesothelioma Options Available at Specialized Cancer Treatment Centers
Unfortunately, the availability of innovative therapies for malignant mesothelioma is not universal. Patients who do not have access to specialized cancer treatment centers or university hospitals often find that chemotherapy is their only option unless they are willing to travel. Though this may represent a hardship, studies have shown that patients treated at these high-level centers have longer overall survival times than those experienced at smaller community hospitals, and often have improved quality of life as well.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can help you access state-of-the-art treatment. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608 to learn more.