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How Immunotherapy Transformed a Mesothelioma Patient’s Life

How Immunotherapy Transformed a Mesothelioma Patient's Life

An elderly man went to the hospital for treatment for two different types of cancer, nasopharyngeal carcinoma and mesothelioma. His treatment with immunotherapy was successful and improved his outlook.

Unraveling the Complexity of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that grows in the lining of organs in the body. In this case, the patient had mesothelioma in his abdomen. This cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos.

When a person has mesothelioma in their abdomen, the tumors can grow and spread to cover a large area. It can be difficult to diagnose because of its vague symptoms, like abdominal pain, bloating, and weight loss.

And it is even harder to treat because it is often diagnosed at a more advanced stage. Surgery is usually the first treatment option considered by doctors. But in many cases of mesothelioma in the abdomen, the cancer may be inoperable because of how much it has spread.

In cases where surgery is not an option, doctors will use a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy to manage the disease and improve the person’s quality of life.

The Inspiring Journey of an Elderly Man’s Triumph Over Mesothelioma

In this case, the treatment approach was complicated by the fact that the patient had a second type of cancer, nasopharyngeal carcinoma. This is a type of cancer that grows in the upper part of the throat.

The patient also suffered from what are called “paraneoplastic syndromes”. These are a rare group of disorders caused by cancer cells that can affect many different parts of the body. For this patient, it caused him to have abnormal blood cell counts.

After confirming his mesothelioma diagnosis with biopsies, the patient’s doctors determined that surgery was not going to be possible. The cancer tumors had spread too much. Instead, the patient received the chemotherapy drug Pemetrexed with the immunotherapy drug Nivolumab. He also received radiation therapy.

As a result of this treatment plan, the elderly man experienced progression-free survival of 12 months and an overall survival of 23 months.

This case suggests that a comprehensive treatment plan that includes immunotherapy could help patients with other cancers in addition to mesothelioma.


Tang LK, Li ZK, Xiang YL, Ma DY, Du GB. Metachronous double primary malignant tumors with nasopharyngeal carcinoma and diffuse malignant peritoneal mesothelioma accompanied with paraneoplastic syndromes treated with nivolumab: A case report. Medicine (Baltimore). 2023;102(30):e34349. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000034349. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37505161/

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