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The Power of the Immune System in Mesothelioma Therapy

The Power of the Immune System in Mesothelioma Therapy

Pembrolizumab is a type of immunotherapy treatment for mesothelioma. A newly published study looks at how pembrolizumab is being used to treat this disease.

Harnessing the Power of the Immune System

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer caused by asbestos. When it grows in the lungs, it is called pleural mesothelioma. There are about 2,000 cases of pleural mesothelioma in the United States each year.

It can often take around 40 years for symptoms of pleural mesothelioma to begin. These may include shortness of breath due to fluid around the lung, chest pain, cough, and fatigue.

Conventional treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. According to medical studies, the median survival with conventional treatment is little more than a year.

A newer type of treatment is called immunotherapy. It uses the patient’s immune system to fight cancer. Immunotherapy is also referred to as biological therapy.

The Role of Pembrolizumab Immunotherapy

Pembrolizumab is one of the drugs used for immunotherapy. It is already used regularly to treat melanoma, urothelial carcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer, and other types of cancer. Sometimes, doctors will try immunotherapy drugs like pembrolizumab for mesothelioma patients if the conventional treatments are not working.

The researchers in this study wanted to find out how pembrolizumab is being used by doctors to treat pleural mesothelioma. They looked for already published studies that looked at how well this drug worked in treating pleural mesothelioma.

They found 15 studies that looked at over 450 patients, mostly older men. Pembrolizumab was often used as the first treatment, and it was usually given alone. There were some side effects, such as fatigue, rashes, and diarrhea.

The treatment showed a positive response in about 18% of patients, and around 35% had stable disease. The average time without the cancer getting worse was almost five months.

Overall, pembrolizumab seems to be a promising option for managing pleural mesothelioma, with good results and acceptable safety.


Ali RM, Kakamad, FH, Abdullah, HO, et al. Pembrolizumab (Anti-PD-1) in the management of malignant pleural mesothelioma: A systematic review of the current literature. Barw Medical Journal. 2023. doi: 10.58742/bmj.v1i2.34. https://barw.krd/index.php/BMJ/article/view/34#title-10

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