Chemotherapy – Immunotherapy – C. Forlanini Hospital
Many treatments for mesothelioma are researched in Italy because Italy has a high rate of mesothelioma possibly due to the amount of asbestos that is naturally found in the ground. In this 2005 study from Forlanini Hospital in Rome, two chemotherapy drugs were tested. These drugs were epirubicin and gemcitabine. Both had been used in other cancers.
From August 1998 to November 2001, 28 pleural mesothelioma patients were enrolled in the trial. There were 22 men and 6 women. The patients who responded to chemotherapy (6 of the 28) were also treated with interleukin-2. Interleukin-2 is a type of signaling molecule that regulates the activities of white blood cells in the immune system.
The median survival was 55 weeks. By the time the study was published, all the patients had died. Despite that result, the researchers concluded that epirubicin plus gemcitabine, as a treatment in pleural mesothelioma, “has promising activity.” Today, this drug combination is seldom used as a first line treatment in pleural mesothelioma.
Patients: This Phase II study involved 28 patients with mesothelioma, of whom 26 were evaluated. Twenty-two patients were men, and six were women. The median age was 63 years. Twenty-two patients had stage 3 or 4 disease. None of the patients had received prior treatment.
Treatment: The treatment consisted of two chemotherapeutic agents: epirubicin and gemcitabine. In addition, the six patients who responded to chemotherapy were also administered interleukin.
Toxicities: Grade 3-4 toxicities included: leukocytopenia, nausea, and vomiting.
Results: In 26 evaluable patients, the median survival was 12.7 months.
Correspondence: Dr Luigi Portalone, MD
See all conventional treatment results for mesothelioma.