Is Precision Medicine the Future of Mesothelioma Treatment?

Precision medicine, also known as targeted therapy, has long been held up as the greatest hope for the successful treatment of malignant mesothelioma.

Now, a retrospective study of 1,300 cancer patients diagnosed with a variety of challenging forms of cancer has found that by identifying molecular tumor markers in individual patients and matching them with a specific therapy, patients experienced doubled survival and slower growth of their cancers.

The study, which was conducted at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, looked at the results of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma, as well as those with other advanced-stage cancers with no existing standard treatment options, all of whom had been referred for molecular testing of their tumors and had at least one identified genetic alteration.

They were then treated with drugs that targeted that alteration. The result was that 15% of patients had a 3-year survival rate, while only 7% of those who had been given non matched therapies lived for three years.

Discovering the biomarkers that exist in mesothelioma patients has long been a goal of researchers, and the same has been true for the treatment of other cancers.

According to Catherine Diefenbach, MD of NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, “This method of molecular profiling tumors and treating on the basis of actionable mutations is the wave of the future. Large-scale [studies] will bring these efforts to many, many more patients and will usher in new approaches to treating advanced cancer and hopefully improve overall survival.”

Apostolic-Maria Tsimberidou, MD, PhD, of MD Anderson, presented her group’s findings at the recent meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists, and said,

“This is the first and largest study — with the longest follow-up — to assess the impact of precision medicine on survival across multiple cancer types. Our findings show that molecular testing of tumors using next-generation sequencing can be used to optimize therapy and should be taken into consideration when selecting therapy for patients with difficult-t0-treat cancers. I am optimistic that in the next few years, we will dramatically improve outcomes for patients with cancer by increasing implementation of precision medicine.”

As improvements are made in medical solutions for mesothelioma, patients and their families have greater reason for hope. For information on other resources and breakthroughs, contact the Patient Advocates at 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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