Though malignant pleural mesothelioma develops over years, its symptoms don’t appear until the disease is very advanced, and usually do so with dramatic and terrible ferocity. Patients, who are generally older and may already be in fragile health, can be overwhelmed with chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and other symptoms that significantly reduce quality of life. For many, little can be done beyond offering palliative treatments meant to provide relief, and though they are helpful, the protocols themselves can also be time consuming and challenging to undergo. But researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine are reporting that an innovative new device can remedy that problem.
New Linear Accelerator Delivers Mesothelioma Relief Much Faster
According to the Penn researchers, the Halcyon multileaf collimator is a radiotherapy device that effectively and safely relieves mesothelioma symptoms, and does so in a way that allows healthcare professionals to reduce patient treatment time to mere minutes.
Although the time that a treatment takes may seem like a small thing to an outsider, for a mesothelioma patient has weakened by disease, being able to minimize the time in a medical office is extremely significant. Pain, discomfort and fatigue is often so great that some opt out of treatment in favor of staying home, so a treatment that relieves symptoms and takes less than 5 minutes in an office represents a real breakthrough.
Palliative Radiotherapy Disrupts Mesothelioma Cell DNA
Though palliative radiotherapy cannot cure malignant mesothelioma, it can help to relieve its most uncomfortable symptoms, providing patients with improved quality of life. It does this by penetrating the deadly cancer’s cells and disrupting DNA so that the cells cannot replicate, and tumors may even shrink. The Penn researchers say that the linear accelerator’s system of radiation delivery delivers radiotherapy much faster than other systems. They reported that the average time mesothelioma patients in the study spent in the treatment room was about ten minutes, with only about 90 seconds spent with the radiation beam on. This represented about half the time that existing palliative radiotherapy treatments take, while effectively minimizing discomfort from the disease.
Reporting on their findings, Penn researcher Andrew Barsky wrote, “In this initial clinical experience treating patients with palliative RT for malignant pleural mesothelioma on Halcyon™, treatment provided symptom palliation and local control across multiple palliative scenarios, with minimal toxicity, acceptable dosimetry, and setup corrections and treatment times that compared favorably with other published experiences of MPM RT.”
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and you need information on innovative treatments, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.