Finding a Cure for Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma treatment has come a long way over the past several decades. When mesothelioma researchers began studying the cancer, all they knew was that it was linked to asbestos. There was little information on how the disease progressed and very few treatment options were available.
Today, options such as chemotherapy, photodynamic therapy, gene therapy, immunotherapy, and surgery are pushing the boundaries of what is possible. Further, they are extending the lifespans of patients with mesothelioma.
Biological therapies and cell therapies are very promising. They may even deliver a cure at some point in the near future. Biological therapies modify or disrupt the way that cells normally work. This can offer doctors creative solutions for fighting abnormal cells affected by asbestos exposure.
While there’s currently not a cure, it’s possible to become a mesothelioma survivor with medical treatment in some cases. Read about others who’ve survived this cancer in our Free Mesothelioma Survivors Guide.
New Treatments to Lead to a Cure
Researchers are constantly working on new treatment options to improve the prognosis of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Several new and emerging treatments have shown promise in treating mesothelioma effectively and increasing life expectancy. For example, immunotherapy is a relatively new medical treatment using the body’s immune system to attack and destroy cancer cells. When doctors first began studying mesothelioma decades ago, this treatment was unavailable.
There is hope that a cure may be discovered in the future. Currently, however, most treatments for mesothelioma focus on extending life expectancy and improving quality of life.
Researchers continue to develop new, innovative methods for treating mesothelioma. Many of these new treatments are studied through clinical trials run by medical teams, including some of the country’s top mesothelioma doctors.
Use our Free Doctor Match to find mesothelioma specialists in your area who can help you access new and emerging treatments.
One way that doctors and medical professionals work to discover new emerging treatments for mesothelioma is through clinical trials.
Licensed medical practitioners and researchers run clinical trials to evaluate new medical treatments. They are regulated by the federal government and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Mesothelioma clinical trials allow doctors, scientists, and researchers to try newer treatments in a controlled setting.
Doctors have criteria for determining which patients can join a clinical trial. For example, there are several different types of mesothelioma. A patient with pleural mesothelioma — the most common form of the disease — may be eligible for a certain clinical trial, while a patient with testicular mesothelioma, which is rare, may not be.
Although medical professionals conduct clinical trials, they have risks. The drugs and treatments involved are sometimes untested. This means there is the possibility of unknown side effects. Patients who join clinical trials are informed of the possible risks and benefits before starting the study and should make sure their doctor is involved.
Clinical trials and other treatments may help you become a long-term survivor of mesothelioma. View stories of survivors in our Free Mesothelioma Survivors Guide.
Types of Emerging Treatments
Doctors and researchers are working hard to discover new ways to treat mesothelioma. Several new treatments established over the past few decades have improved life expectancy, prognosis, and reduced symptoms. There is some hope that one of these treatments will eventually lead to a cure.
Many of the most common emerging mesothelioma treatments are:
In immunotherapy, patients are given drugs to boost their immune system, enabling it to target and attack cancerous cells more efficiently. It may also suppress a patient’s immune system to allow other types of treatments to take effect.
Gene therapy is a relatively new treatment that introduces manipulated genes into the body. Gene therapy helps cancerous cells affected by mesothelioma to be more susceptible to other forms of cancer treatment.
p53 Restorative Drugs
The tumor protein p53 is a human gene that can be used in medical treatments to suppress cancer. It can be used to either repair damaged cells or kill cancerous cells. More research is currently being done to learn more about this treatment.
The epigenome is a record of how chemicals change in a person’s DNA, which is unique to each individual. Doctors are working to determine how cancer turns off particular anticancer mechanisms in the epigenome and how epigenetic therapy can alter these changes.
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
Photodynamic therapy, or PDT, uses a photosynthesizing agent to destroy cancer. This agent is combined with wavelengths of light to create singlet oxygen, which kills cancer cells. PDT has effectively treated several forms of cancer, including mesothelioma.
Virotherapy uses viruses to target and kill cancer cells. It is often used in conjunction with other therapies, such as immunotherapy.
Cryotherapy uses cold temperatures to target and kill cancer cells. Although it is a relatively new mesothelioma treatment, it has been used to treat other conditions for years.
Find top mesothelioma doctors who can help treat you with our Free Doctor Match.
Improving Mesothelioma Surgical Techniques
The most common surgeries for patients with mesothelioma are extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP), pleurectomy with decortication (P/D), and cytoreduction with HIPEC.
- In an EPP, a cancerous lung may be removed entirely, along with certain parts of the chest lining, pericardium (heart lining), diaphragm, and nearby lymph nodes. This is used to treat pleural mesothelioma.
- A P/D allows doctors to remove the lung lining that’s been affected by cancer (called the pleura) without having to remove one or both lungs entirely. This is another common surgery for pleural mesothelioma.
- Cytoreduction with HIPEC combines abdominal surgery and heated chemotherapy to treat patients with peritoneal mesothelioma.
There is currently a debate between mesothelioma doctors and researchers on whether an EPP or a P/D is better. Many doctors argue that EPPs are too aggressive and risky. In turn, there is increased advocacy for P/D procedures.
Mesothelioma surgeries and other treatments can help you live longer. See how top treatments helped others in our Free Mesothelioma Survivors Guide.
Finding the Right Emerging Treatment For You
Although there is no cure for mesothelioma today, physicians and researchers are working hard to develop emerging treatments that may eventually lead to a cure.
Emerging treatments such as immunotherapy, gene therapy, p53 restorative drugs, epigenetic therapy, and photodynamic therapy are often offered through clinical trials.
If you or a loved one suffers from mesothelioma, you may want to consider one of these treatment options. They may improve your prognosis or reduce your symptoms.
Keep in mind, it is important to consult with a mesothelioma specialist. They can evaluate your specific case of mesothelioma to help determine which emerging treatment may work best for you.
Get our Free Mesothelioma Survivors Guide to see which treatments helped other patients live for years or decades with this cancer.
Mesothelioma Cure FAQs
Is there a cure for mesothelioma?
There is currently no known cure for mesothelioma, and even the best treatment options can only aim to diminish the existence of the cancer. However, mesothelioma is aggressive and often resurfaces. New research and innovations are our best hope of curing mesothelioma.
Are there any new treatments for mesothelioma?
Yes. New treatments are emerging every year thanks to mesothelioma doctors and researchers carefully researching effective treatment options.
Clinical trials are the main way doctors will test new treatments, and many patients have seen positive results after participating in clinical trials.
The latest clinical trial that was approved by the FDA for more mainstream use was immunotherapy. This treatment provides patients with immune-boosting drugs, so their immune system is more efficient at targeting and killing cancerous cells.
How can I participate in a clinical trial for mesothelioma?
Patients can access emerging mesothelioma treatments through clinical trials. These are carefully run studies to explore how mesothelioma might react to different and new treatment options.
Use our Free Doctor Match to find specialists who can recommend clinical trials.
What is the best treatment for mesothelioma?
Because each patient and case of mesothelioma is unique, the best treatment methods vary for each patient. It is important to work with your mesothelioma specialist to determine the best treatment plan for you.