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Mesothelioma Patient Advocates Optimistic About New Treatment Regimen

Mesothelioma is a rare and always fatal form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. The condition has proven to be particularly vexing to treat. This is in part due to the fact that it is generally not diagnosed until the disease is in an advanced stage, and in part due to the difficulty in killing the cancer cells without harming surrounding, healthy tissue. But recent research is offering hope for a new treatment protocol that will represent the first significant change in the standard of care for malignant pleural mesothelioma in the past ten years.

According to French researchers who have just completed a Phase 3 study, a drug called bevacizumab has been used in combination with the current protocol treatment with the chemotherapy drug combination of pemetrexed/cisplatin and has yielded significant improvements in the survival of patients. Bevacizumab is made by Genentech, Inc. and is also known by the name Avastin. It works by blocking the growth of blood vessels, and has been used successfully in the treatment of lung cancer, colon cancer and a number of other types of challenging cancers.

According to Dr. Lee M. Krug of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, “The mesothelioma community has been waiting for this kind of news for a long time – it is the first positive phase II trial in mesothelioma since the original study of pemetrexed/cisplatin over ten years ago. The addition of bevacizumab has the potential to become a new standard of care for first-line therapy in this disease.”

The results of the study will be released at the upcoming American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)’s annual meeting, and details treatment of over 400 patients who were treated between the years 2008 and 2014 in 73 medical centers. Half of the patients received the standard treatment of pemetrexed and cisplatin while the other half received that treatment combined with bevacizumab, and showed that those in the latter group had a significantly longer survival rate. The drug was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of certain metastatic cancers in 2004, and since then has been added to the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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