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Hopes High for Mesothelioma Immunotherapy Treatment

Mesothelioma patients and their loved ones have grown accustomed to hearing about breakthroughs in cancer research, only to have their hopes dashed – rarely do the discoveries apply to the challenges of the rare and fatal form of cancer caused by asbestos. But as detailed in a study published by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, there have been some encouraging results found from the use of immunotherapy.

According to the study’s authors, the incidence and diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma continues to rise, despite the fact that its cause has been well established and industry has cut back on the use of the carcinogenic material that causes it. The disease leaves patients with little hope, as the median life expectancy is only 13 to 15 months after the time of diagnosis. Malignant mesothelioma has proven to be resistant to the effects of chemotherapy: most patients receive it as part of their multi modality treatment, but within 6 months at least half generally find that their cancer has returned. But a phase II clinical trial being conducted in France has indicated that the use of immunotherapy has shown a dramatic slowdown in the speed with which mesothelioma grows after it has made its return. Researchers have found that at 12 weeks post relapse, 44% of patients receiving the immunotherapy drug nivolumab had shown no worsening of their cancer, and that number increased to 50% in those who received both the nivolumab and ipiliumab.

According to the study’s lead author, Arnaud Scherpereel, MD, PhD who is head of the Pulmonary and Thoracic Oncology Department at the University Hospital of Lille in Lille, France, “Our findings suggest that immunotherapy may provide new hope for patients with relapsed mesothelioma. This randomized phase II trial may be enough to support the use of immune checkpoint inhibitors in this setting, but it is too early to conclude whether nivolumab alone or the combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab is better.”

For those who are suffering with mesothelioma, learning of the successful results of the use of immunotherapy offers great hope. If you would like more information about studies of this kind or any other type of medical, legal or financial resource, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at  1-800-692-8608.

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