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New Chemotherapy Approach Shrinks Mesothelioma Tumor in Japanese Patient

asian patientThere is some potentially good news for mesothelioma patients who can’t tolerate pemetrexed, the most popular chemotherapy drug for the asbestos cancer.

A team of doctors in Japan is reporting a good response in a mesothelioma patient treated with a specially-prepared version of paclitaxel in combination with carboplatin.

The patient’s mesothelioma tumor shrank not once, but twice on this chemotherapy combination, suggesting that it may be a promising alternative to pemetrexed and cisplatin.

Chemotherapy Treatment for Mesothelioma

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a notoriously difficult disease to treat.

For mesothelioma patients who are not candidates for surgery, the most common treatment is a combination of pemetrexed (brand name Alimta) and a platinum-based drug called cisplatin.

Unfortunately, there are a number of toxicities associated with Alimta and even mesothelioma patients who do tolerate the drug are limited in how much they can have. Mesothelioma patients who do not respond to Alimta have few alternatives.

A New Kind of Mesothelioma Chemotherapy

At the Kyoto Medical Center in Japan, doctors are reporting some encouraging results with a new kind of chemotherapy treatment for mesothelioma.

The approach uses a version of the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel that is encased in a protein sheath that makes it easier to enter cancer cells.

Nanoparticle albumin-bound paclitaxel was combined with the platinum drug carboplatin (nabPC) and given to a 76-year-old mesothelioma patient with epithelioid mesothelioma who had not responded to standard chemotherapy.

Improving Mesothelioma Outcomes

When the mesothelioma patient was given pemetrexed and cisplatin, his mesothelioma tumor continued to grow.

But when he received four cycles of nabPC, he had what his Japanese doctors describe as a “good response”. Just as importantly, when the man’s mesothelioma tumor did begin to grow again, the doctors were again able to slow its progression with another four cycles of nabPC.

This is the first case of a mesothelioma patient receiving repeated tumor regression with this chemotherapy regimen and it could have an impact on mesothelioma survival around the world.

“Based on the present case, nabPC is a potential alternative chemotherapeutic agent for malignant pleural mesothelioma, especially for MPM patients who do not tolerate pemetrexed,” writes study author Osamu Kanai with the National Hospital Organization Kyoto Medical Center.

Approximately 2,500 Americans are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma each year. The prognosis for people with mesothelioma is typically poor.


Kanai, O, et al, “Repetitive responses to nanoparticle albumin-bound paclitaxel and carboplatin in malignant pleural mesothelioma”, January 14, 2016, Respirology Case Reports, 28-31

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