Researchers Express Fears That Superbugs Could Impact Mesothelioma Treatment

As mesothelioma researchers search for the best possible combination of treatments to slow and stop the spread of the rare and always-fatal form of cancer, oncologists in the United Kingdom and United States are raising fears that all of their efforts could be foiled by the rise of “superbugs” that would remove chemotherapy as a treatment option. Their fear is that the risk of infection posed by chemotherapy will become even greater as antibiotics lose their effectiveness to these drug-resistant illnesses.

Will Chemotherapy’s Use in Mesothelioma Become An Issue?

When a patient’s malignant mesothelioma is diagnosed, they are generally offered a multimodality treatment consisting of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy. Though the condition is always considered fatal, chemotherapy has proven to provide extended survival and is used for patients seeking both curative and palliative treatments. But because the drug lowers patients’ susceptibility to infection, patients are also put on a course of antibiotics.

Unfortunately, doctors surveyed by the Longitude Prize fear that the rise of “superbugs” – viruses that have developed resistance to antibiotics — may render this treatment too dangerous for patients with mesothelioma. Ninety-five percent of oncologists surveyed indicated that they were concerned about this eventuality.

One in Five Cancer Patients Need Antibiotics

According to the survey, 20% of cancer patients are prescribed antibiotics during the course of their treatment, and in many cases this is specifically to counter the impact that chemotherapy has on the immune system. The researchers fear that the growth of drug-resistant infections may make the use of chemotherapy an impossibility in the next ten to twenty years, with 41 percent of oncologists saying that they have seen an increase in the number of patients with these types of infections in the UK. Five percent of patients undergoing surgery have developed these types of infections.

Speaking of their concerns, Daniel Berman, global health director of Nesta Challenges which runs the Longitude Prize, issued a statement saying, “Oncologists are right to be concerned about growing levels of antibiotic resistance being experienced by their patients post-surgery or those undergoing chemotherapy. We cannot change the rules of biology to stop superbugs appearing but we can slow their development and improve infection control and prevention.”

Researchers looking to the future of mesothelioma treatment are working to develop new and better treatments for the rare and fatal form of cancer. For information on the best options available for you, contact the Patient Advocates at today 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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