How Photodynamic Therapy is Changing the Game for Mesothelioma Patients

How Photodynamic Therapy is Changing the Game for Mesothelioma Patients

When it comes to treating a tough cancer like malignant pleural mesothelioma, doctors use many different methods. One important way is surgery to remove the big parts of the disease.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have been studying how another treatment called photodynamic therapy (PDT) can help during surgery. PDT is a special light treatment has shown potential in animal studies. Surgery and PDT can work together to help mesothelioma patients.

Combining Surgery and PDT for Optimal Treatment

Mesothelioma is a rare but deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Pleural mesothelioma occurs on the membrane around the lungs. It is the most common type of mesothelioma. Around 2,500 Americans receive a mesothelioma diagnosis each year. There is no cure.

Surgery plays a pivotal role in reducing the bulk of mesothelioma tumors. But even after surgery, there can be lingering cancer cells. That’s where photodynamic therapy (PDT) comes in. The research team used PDT with a special light-sensitive medicine called Photofrin on MPM models in mice. These models had some of the cancer removed by surgery – about 60 to 90 percent. This innovative combination introduced the potential for curing the disease, even if the surgery didn’t get everything.

Exploring Surgery, Photodynamic Therapy, and Future Possibilities

The latest data showed something important about using PDT and surgery together. On one side, when researchers used both, the treatment worked better over time compared to only doing surgery. This means the chance of curing the cancer gets even better. But, on the other hand, the cuts from surgery could make the body’s defenses weaker when PDT is used.

These insights pave the way for future approaches. Researchers are now looking at potential methods to counteract the immunosuppressive effects brought on by surgery. By addressing this challenge, researchers want to make sure that the combination of surgery and PDT is as effective as it can be, ultimately offering improved results for patients battling malignant pleural mesothelioma.


Davis, R. W., Klampatsa, A., Cramer, G. M., Kim, M. M., Miller, J. M., Yuan, M., Houser, C., Snyder, E., Putt, M., Vinogradov, S. A., Albelda, S. M., Cengel, K. A., & Busch, T. M. (2023). Surgical Inflammation Alters Immune Response to Intraoperative Photodynamic Therapy. Cancer Research Communications, CRC-22-0494. https://doi.org/10.1158/2767-9764.CRC-22-0494


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