Speaking at the 18th Annual Winter Lung Cancer Conference, noted mesothelioma researcher Anne S. Tsao, MD told the virtual gathering of physicians that recent advances in the frontline treatment of malignant mesothelioma have made clear the need for further clinical trials evaluating optimal sequencing of checkpoint inhibitors for patients in the salvage setting, as well as individualized treatment.
Physician Points to Immunotherapy as New Frontline Standard for Mesothelioma Patients
Dr. Tsao is director of the Department of Mesothelioma Program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, as well as a professor, section chief, and program chair of the Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology in the Division of Cancer Medicine. She reported to the group on advancements in the treatment of the rare and fatal form of cancer.
She presented the history of improvements in mesothelioma treatment, starting with the combination of cisplatin and pemetrexed, moving on to the addition of bevacizumab to provide improved overall survival, and then speaking to the improvements in both overall survival and progression-free survival that is now being found with a combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab, delivering an improvement from 14.1 with the chemotherapy combination to 18.1 months with the immunotherapy combination, and two-year overall survival rates of 41% vs 27% with chemotherapy.
What Lies Ahead for Mesothelioma Treatment
Dr. Tsao says that much more needs to be studied to provide mesothelioma patients with the best individualized treatment. She suggests the need for investigation into predictive biomarkers to provide clearer answers for who should be treated using immunotherapy, the use of other forms of immunotherapy, and into sequencing for patients in the salvage setting, for which there are currently no standard FDA-approved options.
She explains that in the salvage setting, placebo trials would be inappropriate, but that sequencing trials will still be helpful to knowing “precisely whether patients will benefit by getting chemotherapy with or without immunotherapy after, and how we should be sequencing this.”
The additional knowledge provided by clinical trials has provided hope for improved treatment for patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. If you need information, please contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.