It is not a secret that cancer treatments can be expensive. Researchers from Switzerland looked at whether immunotherapy is worth the cost compared to chemotherapy for mesothelioma.
For this study, the researchers specifically looked at pleural mesothelioma. This type of mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs. It is often caused by being exposed to a toxic material called asbestos.
Unleashing the Immune System: Immunotherapy vs. Chemotherapy for Mesothelioma
Conventional treatments for mesothelioma generally consist of chemotherapy, surgery, and sometimes radiation therapy. The exact treatment plan depends on the individual patient. This includes their health, the type of mesothelioma they have, and how much the cancer has spread.
Chemotherapy uses toxic drugs that kill cells by damaging their DNA. Chemotherapy drugs target rapidly growing cancer cells. But they can also affect healthy cells that grow rapidly such as blood cells. Currently, the only FDA approved chemotherapy for mesothelioma is a combination of pemetrexed and cisplatin.
Recently, an immunotherapy treatment has been approved for use as well. This treatment combines the drugs nivolumab and ipilimumab. Immunotherapy treatments try to encourage an immune response in the patient’s body to fight the cancer.
The researchers in this study wanted to see if this new treatment is worth the cost compared to the more conventional chemotherapy combination of pemetrexed and cisplatin. They used computer models to look at how much it costs, how long it helps people live, and if it is safe.
They found that the new immunotherapy treatment is more expensive, but it can help people live longer and improve quality of life. The immunotherapy treatment could be a good idea for some patients with pleural mesothelioma, but it might need to be cheaper to be a good choice for everyone with different types of the cancer.
Barbier MC, Fengler A, Pardo E, Bhadhuri A, Meier N, Gautschi O. Cost Effectiveness and Budget Impact of Nivolumab Plus Ipilimumab Versus Platinum Plus Pemetrexed (with and Without Bevacizumab) in Patients with Unresectable Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma in Switzerland [published online ahead of print, 2023 Aug 12]. Pharmacoeconomics. 2023;10.1007/s40273-023-01305-3. doi:10.1007/s40273-023-01305-3. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40273-023-01305-3