Malignant mesothelioma is among the rarest forms of cancer. It is also one of the most difficult to treat. Mesothelioma continues to be considered a fatal diagnosis, despite strides that have been made in improving longevity for many of those identified as having the disease. It is the challenge of treating the condition, as well as its persistent resistance to traditional cancer treatment protocols, that has led researchers to include patients diagnosed with the condition in wide-ranging studies of the most promising cancer treatments. The most recent example was a study conducted at the University of Toronto to determine whether gender plays a role in the response to immunotherapy treatment.
Mesothelioma Patients Included in Study
The study, which was published in a recent issue of JAMA Oncology, enlisted cancer patients suffering from a wide range of cancer types, including non-small cell lung cancer melanoma, clear cell renal cell carcinoma and mesothelioma. Others in the study were diagnosed with urothelial carcinoma, gastric or gastroesophageal carcinoma, small cell lung cancer and head and neck squamous carcinoma. The researchers had set out to prove or disprove a theory put forward in June 2018 indicating that male cancer patients get greater benefit from immune checkpoint inhibitors than female patients.
New Study Corrects Previous Shortcomings
By including the mesothelioma patient, the researchers sought to correct what they viewed as limitations in the original study, among which was the limited subset of approved immunotherapeutic agents and the inclusion criteria for patients. The scientists intentionally took a broader and more inclusive approach, and this resulted in them confirming that the innovative treatment protocol provided a significant improvement in overall survival when compared to other methods, but with no advantage offered to men over women.
“Contrary to the published meta-analysis by Conforti et al, which suggested a greater immunotherapy advantage compared with standard of care systemic therapy for men than women, the present analysis found no difference in overall survival from immune checkpoint inhibitors when comparing the efficacy of these treatments between the sexes,” the scientists wrote. They concluded that, “Contrary to findings of a previous analysis, we found no evidence that sex should be considered when deciding whether to offer immunotherapy to patients with advanced cancers.”
These conclusions offer renewed hope for women diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, as well as confirmation that immunotherapy remains a promising treatment option for those diagnosed with the rare and deadly disease. If you would like information on accessing innovative treatment, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.