One of the first things that a mesothelioma victim is told after their diagnosis is that the disease has a very short life expectancy. Some are told to get their affairs in order, while others may have a prognosis that promises a year, perhaps two.
The medical community has been striving to find better treatment protocols to allow these victims of asbestos exposure more time, but the condition is stubbornly resistant to standard protocols.
The group is taking hope from a major study that’s shown that many lung cancer patients being treated with immune therapy are living longer: they are hoping that this innovative treatment regimen can do the same for them.
The immune therapy study comes from the Thoracic Medical Oncology Program at the Perlmutter Cancer Center at New York University Langone Health. The study didn’t specifically focus on patients with malignant mesothelioma, but its findings may turn out to be applicable.
The study revealed that patients who received chemotherapy alone derived a “modest benefit” from the treatment and lived a few months longer than they would have without treatment. Those who received a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy were able to see long-term survival. It was particularly important that the immunotherapy was given as soon as possible in the course of treatment.
According to Dr. Roy Herbst, Chief of Medical Oncology at the Yale Cancer Center, the study’s results are in keeping with what he has been seeing in his own patients. “I’ve been treating lung cancer for 25 years now, and I’ve never seen such a big paradigm shift as we’re seeing with immunotherapy.”
“Chemotherapy has limitations. Immunotherapy has the ability to cure. I lead the Yale lung team. We have patients on these immunotherapies alive more than eight years.”
For mesothelioma patients, even eight months would be a remarkable gain. Mesothelioma researchers are hoping to achieve similar positive results through their own clinical trials. The costs, however, are high: treatment runs $100,000 per year, and can have significant adverse health effects.
If you are a patient who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and you would like information on how to find a clinical trial or on anything else related to your condition, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.