Just three months after a team of French oncologists published their findings on the mesothelioma survival benefits of adding the drug Avastin (bevacizumab) to standard mesothelioma chemotherapy, Chinese doctors claim they have found a way to further improve the results.
The team says they were able to produce a “perfect response” in a 57-year-old man with advanced mesothelioma by following the three-drug chemotherapy combination with a maintenance dose of Alimta (pemetrexed).
If their results can be verified in further tests, it could change the prognosis for thousands of mesothelioma patients around the world.
Avastin’s Impact on Mesothelioma Outcomes
In January 2016, results from the six-year Mesothelioma Avastin Cisplatin Pemetrexed Study (MAPS) were so positive that the French team testing the combination said it should become the standard of care for mesothelioma.
Between 2008 and 2014, the team randomly assigned either standard two-drug chemotherapy (pemetrexed and cisplatin) or the new combination with Avastin to 448 mesothelioma patients.
It turned out the the Avastin group had a 23% lower risk of death and survived an average of 2.7 months longer than the standard chemotherapy group.
Taking Advanced Mesothelioma Treatment One Step Further
Like the French team, the Chinese doctors also achieved good results for their advanced mesothelioma patient with the three-drug combination.
But when they took his treatment a step further by adding six courses of pemetrexed maintenance therapy (PMT) after the first-line chemotherapy, the results were even better.
“Residual tumor disappeared after six course of PMT,” reports Xue-Qing Jing, lead author on the paper published in the journal Medicine. “A perfect response and a long progression-free survival (PFS) were reached with tumor mass disappearing and 14 months duration of PFS.”
A New Treatment Direction?
Although the new paper details only a single case, given the aggressive nature of malignant mesothelioma and the lack of effective life-extending mesothelioma treatments, the results are encouraging.
“This case suggests that adding bevacizumab to standard first-line chemotherapy is feasible and that PMT could be promising and useful for for treating advanced malignant pleural mesothelioma,” concludes Dr. Jing.
An estimated 2,500 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the US each year. Most are not expected to survive longer than 18 months.
Jing, XQ, “Pemetrexed Maintenance Therapy Following Bevacizumab-Containing First-Line Chemotherapy in Advanced Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma, A Case Report and Literature Review”, April 2016, Medicine, pp. 95