Mesothelioma is a rare cancer and standard therapies are limited. So most patients consider one or more different treatments. Different types of therapies can be used and they are usually not exclusive. Mesothelioma patients can move from one type to another. And, if their doctors agree, can sometimes use them in combination.
One of the non-standard treatment therapies is the use of electric fields. Tumor-treating electric fields can disrupt cancer cell division. This treatment is approved for mesothelioma treatment. A new combination of treatments has recently been proposed. Does the combination of tumor-treating fields with a standard treatment effective?
A new global clinical trial combined tumor-treating fields with sorafenib. This medication blocks cell protein signals to prevent cancer cells from multiplying.
Together, these two treatments block tumor cell growth in several ways. Research is promising that this treatment combination is effective.
A New Combination of Treatment Therapies
The combination of tumor-treating electric fields with sorafenib is not new. Laboratory research and clinical data from other cancer types were promising.
Twenty-seven patients were included in a new study published in Cancers. Each patient had large tumors and advanced disease.
Results showed that tumor-treating fields with sorafenib reduced the tumor size. This combination worked for 9.5% of patients. Sorafenib alone resulted in 4.5% of patients with reduced tumor size.
The reduction of tumor size was even better in patients who had both treatments for 12 weeks. A full 18% of patients showed a reduction in tumor size.
Oncologists are excited to begin a larger clinical trial to examine this combination. There were no new safety concerns or related toxicity in these patients.
Tumor-Treating Electric Fields Explained
Tumor-treating electric fields therapy is non-invasive. It works by selectively disrupting the division of cancer cells. It delivers low-intensity, intermediate frequency, alternating electric fields to the tumor.
Tumor-treating electric fields therapy is generated by a portable, wearable medical device. It may cause skin irritation in some patients. But this can be controlled using topical creams in most cases. It slows tumor growth and induces cancer cell death. They also help with DNA repair and immunological responses.
The multi-modal treatment of tumor-treating fields with sorafenib suggests new possibilities. There is broad applicability for this combination. And there are other combinations to try with other treatment options and modalities.
A New Treatment Option for Mesothelioma Patients
Tumor-treating electric fields (150 kHz) therapy with sorafenib resulted in patient improvements. The response rates were a ~2-fold increase versus sorafenib alone in adult patients. There were no new safety signals or concerns.
Furthermore, the response rate improved in patients who received 12 weeks of treatment. clinical data suggest that tumor-treating electric fields with sorafenib works.
This is a feasible and tolerable therapeutic option for some patients. This treatment combination deserves further investigation in a larger clinical study.
Gkika, Eleni, Anca-Ligia Grosu, Teresa Macarulla Mercade, Antonio Cubillo Gracián, Thomas B. Brunner, Michael Schultheiß, Monika Pazgan-Simon, Thomas Seufferlein, and Yann Touchefeu. “Tumor Treating Fields Concomitant with Sorafenib in Advanced Hepatocellular Cancer: Results of the HEPANOVA Phase II Study.” Cancers 14, no. 6 (2022): 1568. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers14061568