Patients with malignant mesothelioma suffer innumerable discomforts and adverse effects from both the disease itself and the treatments physicians use to prolong their lives. Among the most painful of these is neuropathy. Now researchers from Georgia Tech believe that they’ve arrived at a better understanding of what causes neuropathy, and hope that it will yield an effective treatment.
Neuropathy Is Common Following Mesothelioma Treatment
Neuropathy is a common side effect in mesothelioma patients and others being treated for cancer. The condition impacts the nerves that carry messages to and from the brain and spinal cord from and to the rest of the body. When the neural cells are damaged, it affects their ability to communicate sensation and causes pain, tingling, and weakness.
It has long been thought that neuropathy is a neurological side effect of cancer treatment, and particularly of the platinum-based chemotherapy treatment that is the gold-standard protocol for mesothelioma. Neuropathy in response to cancer treatment can last for years. The Georgia researchers’ data suggests that chemotherapy is not the exclusive cause of the condition. They now believe that the patients’ cancer itself is also a contributor, and that when cancer and chemotherapy are combined the mix of the two proves to be combustible, exacerbating the effect of each.
Better Understanding of Neuropathy May Lead to Treatment
When patients with mesothelioma experience neuropathy, their physicians have traditionally explained that it is caused by structural damage to the nerves, and that the unfortunate side effect is untreatable. The research challenges this belief, revealing that rather than physical damage, the neural cells are experiencing functional problems.
The researchers are from Georgia Tech’s School of Biological Sciences and the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, as well as Georgia Tech’s Integrative Cancer Research Center. Their study was published in the journal Cancer Research.
If you are a mesothelioma patient who has been experiencing side effects from your treatment, there may be help available. Contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608 for information on state-of-the-art treatments and other resources.