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Treating Relapsed Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

Treating Relapsed Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

Researchers from China explored whether immunotherapy or chemotherapy was a better option as a second-line treatment for relapsed malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM).

There is currently no standard of care for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) that comes back after initial treatment. Because of this, it can be hard for doctors to make good care decisions for MPM patients who relapse.

Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

MPM is a rare but serious cancer that grows on the lining of the lungs. It is caused by exposure to a toxic substance called asbestos.

A healthy pleura is thin and flexible and expands to accommodate the lungs during respiration. In a person with mesothelioma, this membrane becomes thick and stiff, constricting the lungs and causing shortness of breath.

The conventional treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) generally consists of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. Of these options, chemotherapy is used most often because only one chemotherapy drug combination is FDA approved for mesothelioma.

Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that uses the patient’s immune system to treat mesothelioma. It is being explored by researchers as another first-line treatment option.

Sometimes these conventional first-line treatments do not work to shrink the cancer. When that happens, doctors must try something else. There is not a widely accepted second-line treatment for mesothelioma.

Treating Relapsed MPM

Researchers from Sichuan University wanted to see which treatment worked best for relapsed MPM: chemotherapy or immunotherapy.

They looked at different studies published by other scientists and measured things like how long patients survived and how the cancer responded to treatment.

The researchers found that immunotherapy might be a little better than chemotherapy at helping people live longer. But chemotherapy might be a better option for slowing down the growth of relapsed MPM.

The researchers concluded that we need more high-quality studies on chemotherapy and immunotherapy as second-line treatments. This would help doctors to figure out which patients might benefit from these types of treatments for relapsed MPM.


Guo X, Lin L, Zhu J. Immunotherapy vs. Chemotherapy in Subsequent Treatment of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: Which Is Better?. J Clin Med. 2023;12(7):2531. Published 2023 Mar 27. doi:10.3390/jcm12072531. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10095244/


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