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Body Radiation Therapy for Mesothelioma

Body Radiation Therapy for Mesothelioma

Stereotactic body radiation therapy may be a safe treatment option for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.

This is the finding of a team of researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a difficult cancer to treat. It develops from the thin layer of tissue that covers the lungs and chest wall. Signs and symptoms may include shortness of breath due to fluid around the lung, chest pain, cough, and fatigue. This cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos.

It can often take around 40 years for pleural mesothelioma to begin. Pleural mesothelioma occurs in about 2,000 people in the United States every year. Conventional treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is a type of cancer treatment that uses precisely focused radiation beams to treat tumors. This is accomplished by using 3D imaging to target the affected area. This means there is very little damage to the surrounding healthy tissue.

A Safe Treatment Combination

The researchers in this study looked at the safety of using SBRT with a drug called avelumab to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma. Avelumab is a type of immunotherapy drug called a monoclonal antibody.

Thirteen patients took part in this study between January 2018 and September 2019. The researchers paid special attention to any negative side effects in these patients after treatment.

The researchers found that SBRT used with avelumab was a safe treatment combination. Some negative side effects did occur but were not severe or fatal. They included nausea, chest pain, diarrhea, fatigue, and fever.

This is an important finding because there are no approved second-line therapies for malignant pleural mesothelioma. This limits the treatment options available to mesothelioma patients who do not respond to the first-line therapy.

Since only 13 patients took part in this study, more research is needed to confirm the results. Despite this, the researchers feel confident in this treatment option, stating that “SBRT is highly effective as a local treatment option for patients with [malignant pleural mesothelioma].”


Rimner A, Adusumilli PS, Offin MD, et al. A Phase 1 Safety Study of Avelumab Plus Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. JTO Clin Res Rep. 2022;4(1):100440. Published 2022 Dec 1. doi:10.1016/j.jtocrr.2022.100440. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9801123/

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