Mesothelioma is a rare disease, which explains why a cure has not yet been discovered. It also remains a difficult cancer to treat mainly due to its poor prognosis. But there is hope- light at the end of the tunnel.
New approaches are constantly being tested to treat asbestos-cancer. Researchers are either combining traditional treatments or including something entirely new. These new advanced developments are not only giving patients more treatment options, but they are also providing promising options for some patients.
And because standard treatments often have little effectiveness, it’s only natural for researchers to dig deeper to find new treatments.
The exact roles of current treatment options such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery are still being studied.
For sure, continued research will certainly bring us closer to a cure for this deadly disease.
Researchers are developing new and improved tools for diagnosing mesothelioma earlier. Survival is generally best when doctors can catch the disease early and begin treatment before the cancer starts to spread out of control.
Latest Advancements in Mesothelioma Treatment
The following emerging treatments and drugs are currently being researched and tested with the hope of helping mesothelioma patients achieve a better life quality, boost their survival rate, and maybe cure the disease completely.
1# Biological Therapy
Biological therapy, also known as Immunotherapy or Cancer Vaccines are new treatment advancements aimed at getting the immune system to attack the malignant tumors.
Basically, this therapy works by boosting the patient’s immune system and fighting the cancer with substances that the body produces naturally. These substances include Bevacizumab, Interferon, Erlotinib, and Intereukin-2. By enhancing the immune system’s natural anticancer function, fighting cancerous cells becomes much easier.
2# Gene Therapy
Another new treatment being tested on mesothelioma is Gene Therapy.
Doctors are using this approach which attempts to add new genes to cancer cells to make them much easier to kill.
The gene therapy has the potential to repair or replace mutated genes that were damaged by asbestos exposure. They may even change the genetic code of cancer cells to make them easier to kill.
Doctors think that this new approach may be useful particularly to patients with advanced mesothelioma who have not responded very well to standard treatments. Further testing is still required.
3# Photodynamic Therapy
Another new approach currently being tested is the Photodynamic Therapy.
This type of therapy uses a light-activated drug to fight cancer. In this therapy, the drug is injected into the patient’s bloodstream where it spreads throughout the body.
This special light causes a chemical change that activates the drug and kills the cancerous cells. This approach causes fewer side effects compared to using drugs as the drug is only active in those areas that are exposed to the light.
When doctors shine a special laser on key areas, it triggers a chemical reaction that kills the cancer while leaving normal cells largely unharmed.
With Virotherapy, new genes are added to cancer cells in attempt to kill them.
The viruses attack the cancer cells by activating the patient’s immune system.
This approach has been found to slow the growth of cancer cells and even shrink them.
5# Targeted Drugs
Researchers are also testing new drugs targeting changes in cells that cause mesothelioma. The new drugs have been developed as a result of chemotherapy drugs having limited effect on mesothelioma.
Targeted drugs are basically designed to work differently from the standard chemotherapy drugs, and they tend to have lesser side effects.
A good example of a targeted drug is Sunitinib (Sutent). The drug has shown some promises and may soon become a new treatment option for some mesothelioma patients.
6# Surgery for Mesothelioma After Radiation Therapy (SMART)
Another promising emerging treatment is the Surgery for Mesothelioma After Radiation (SMART).
Mesothelioma researchers have discovered that applying high doses of radiation to a patient before undergoing surgery for pleural mesothelioma extends survival by several years.
It’s a huge breakthrough aimed at not only extending the patients’ life span, but also improving their life quality.
Researchers are continually using new methods to test out potential mesothelioma treatments and possible cures through Clinical Trials.
Besides researching new treatment approaches, clinical trials are aimed at improving the standard treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.
Clinical trials can offer patients treatment options that aren’t available to all patients. There is also potential to be part of a trial that can lead to recovery.
One particular clinical trial found that combining a drug known as cediranib maleate and chemotherapy drugs has the ability to kill cancer cells more effectively and even extend the lifespan of the affected patients.
Hopefully, future clinical trials will bring mesothelioma cure close to realization.