Two cancer experts from MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas say patients with mesothelioma should be encouraged to take part in clinical trials, not only to help themselves, but to help others who may develop the disease.
In a new opinion article in Current Treatment Options in Oncology, radiation oncologist Daniel Gomez, MD, and medical oncologist Anne Tsao, MD, say the success of these trials depends on participation by mesothelioma patients. “Advances in the field of MPM are reliant on participation in clinical trials and identifying biomarkers that are predictive for response to systemic therapies and prognostic for survival benefit,” they write.
The authors detail the tri-modality therapy approach which is currently the gold standard for the treatment of early stage pleural mesothelioma. According to the article, patients who are deemed to be good candidates for surgery should receive either pleurectomy/decortication or extrapleural pneumonectomy (lung-removing surgery) followed by radiation therapy. They should also have 4 cycles of chemotherapy with cisplatin and pemetrexed (Alimta) either before or after their surgery, though they acknowledge that the optimal order of these steps is still unclear.
But, even with this “gold standard” approach, the mortality rate from mesothelioma is close to a hundred percent, with most patients dying of their disease within a year of diagnosis. A number of clinical trials are underway that aim to change those statistics, including intraoperative therapies, vaccines, immunotherapy treatments, and new radiation techniques. Other trials are focused on ways to boost the effectiveness of current therapies.
Mesothelioma patients are urged to talk to their doctors about their eligibility for one of these clinical trials. For a complete list of ongoing mesothelioma trials, including the criteria for participating in each, click here to visit the government’s clinic trial website.
Gomez, D and Tsau, A, “Local and Systemic Therapies for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma”, September 30, 2014, Current Treatment Options in Oncology, Epub ahead of print