Treatment Research for Mesothelioma
Researchers are constantly working on new treatment options to improve the prognosis of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Several new emerging treatments have shown promise in treating mesothelioma effectively and increasing life expectancy. For example, immunotherapy is a relatively new medical treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to attack and destroy cancer cells. When doctors first began studying mesothelioma decades ago, this treatment was not available.
Another new emerging treatment is gene therapy. During gene therapy, doctors modify a patient’s own genes to replace or repair genes damaged by asbestos.
Researchers continue to develop new, innovative methods for treating mesothelioma. Many new treatments are studied through clinical trials run by teams of medical researchers.
In the future, many believe that a cure may become possible. At the present moment, most treatments for mesothelioma focus on extending life expectancy and improving quality of life.
One way that doctors and medical professionals work to discover new emerging treatments for mesothelioma is through clinical trials.
Clinical trials are traditionally run by licensed medical practitioners and researchers for the evaluation of new medical treatments. They are regulated by the federal government and the FDA. Mesothelioma clinical trials allow doctors, scientists and researchers to try new emerging treatments in a controlled setting.
Clinical trials are generally not open to the public, and doctors have a criteria for determining which patients are eligible. 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 more rare, may not be.
Although clinical trials are conducted by medical professionals, 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 risks and prospective benefits before starting the study.
If you are interested in joining a clinical trial, speak with a trusted, experienced doctor who may be able to find studies near you.
Types of Emerging Treatments
Researchers and doctors are working hard to discover new ways to treat mesothelioma. Several new treatments established over the past few decades have extended life expectancy, improved prognosis and reduced symptoms. There is some hope that, eventually, one of these treatments will lead to a cure.
Many of the most common emerging mesothelioma treatments are:
Immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to target and attack cancerous cells. 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. It is unique to each individual. Doctors are working to determine how cancer turns off particular anticancer mechanisms in the epigenome and how these changes can be altered.
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
Photodynamic therapy, or PDT, uses a photosynthesizing agent. This agent is combined with wavelengths of light to create singlet oxygen, which kills cancer cells. PDT has been effective at treating several different 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.
Improving Mesothelioma Surgical Techniques
The most common surgeries for patients with mesothelioma are extrapleural pneumonectomy and pleural effusion.
In an extrapleural pneumonectomy, a cancerous lung may be removed entirely, along with certain parts of the chest lining or nearby lymph nodes.
Pleural effusion is a complex procedure in which excess fluid is drained from the lining of the lungs. During this procedure, surgeons must drain the lungs and place the layers and lining back together.
There is currently a debate between mesothelioma doctors and researchers over the effectiveness of each surgery. Many doctors argue that extrapleural pneumonectomy is too aggressive and risky. In turn, there is increased advocacy for pleurectomy with decortication surgery. This surgery removes the pleural lung lining and associated tumors without removing the entire lung.
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 available.
Today, options such as chemotherapy, photodynamic therapy, gene therapy and immunotherapy 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.
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 down the line.
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 is suffering 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 your doctor. They can evaluate your specific case of mesothelioma to help determine which emerging treatment may work best for you.