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Examining the Hype: Lackluster Performance of New Mesothelioma Treatment

Examining the Hype: Lackluster Performance of New Mesothelioma Treatment

Researchers have found that povidone-iodine treatment does not improve survival in mesothelioma patients. The study comes from King’s College and Guy’s Hospital in the United Kingdom.

Survival in Mesothelioma Patients

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is rare and hard to treat. It is caused by exposure to asbestos and usually occurs in the lungs or abdomen. The prognosis for mesothelioma patients is poor, but survival can be improved with a treatment plan that includes surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.

Researchers have been looking for decades for different ways to improve the survival of people with mesothelioma. One idea that is promising is using a solution called povidone-iodine during surgery. It is used to remove mesothelioma tissue from a patient. This solution is like a disinfectant and has been used for years to prevent infections during surgery. Researchers have found that it can also kill some cancer cells in the lab.

Povidone-Iodine’s Disappointing Outcome

Early experiments with povidone-iodine solution showed positive results. The researchers in this study wanted to learn more about what happens to cancer cells when this solution is used during surgery.

The researchers looked at mesothelioma patients who had biopsy procedures to confirm a cancer diagnosis. During this type of procedure, a small piece of tissue is removed by a doctor for further testing in lab. For this study, the doctor also washed the area with povidone-iodine solution during the surgery. Then they took further tissue samples to see if the solution had an effect.

The average age of these patients was 76 years, and they lived for nearly 27 months after the surgery. The study found that the povidone-iodine solution did not really change the number of cancer cells. It also did not cause any bad effects in the patients.

The researchers concluded that using the povidone-iodine solution during surgery is safe. But that it does not seem to help kill cancer cells or improve survival for people with mesothelioma.


Bille A, Jhala H, Ashrafian L, et al. Does hyperthermic povidone-iodine lavage increase the apoptotic rate of residual cancer cell in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma?-a prospective pilot study. Transl Lung Cancer Res. 2023;12(7):1384-1390. doi:10.21037/tlcr-22-282. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10413027/


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