A study at the University Hospital of Udine, Italy found that radical hemithoracic radiology, a new treatment doubles mesothelioma survival rates. The patients studied had cancers that were unable to be totally removed with surgical procedures. Mesothelioma patients generally live a year or, more rarely, up to two years. In this study of 108 patients, half were randomly selected to receive the new treatment and half the more palliative radiotherapy. Of those receiving the new, 58% were still living at two years. Of patients who received the more palliative radiotherapy, only 28% were still living at two years.
Mesothelioma and asbestos
The relationship between asbestos and mesothelioma is well known. The fibers from asbestos – smaller than a human hair – can embed in the layers of tissue surrounding the lungs. Not everyone exposed to asbestos contracts the disease, but it’s always a possibility. It’s an aggressive and fatal cancer that can take up to 50 years for a diagnosis. Current treatments are limited, so all new strides deserve a celebration.
Radical hemithoracic radiology a hopeful improvement for survival
Marco Trovo, MD, leader of the study and Chief of the Radiation Oncology Department at the University Hospital said, “There is an urgent need for more effective treatments for mesothelioma. Surgery can be given to these patients, but it is often impossible to remove all of the tumor. Patients with mesothelioma are sometimes given radiotherapy to help control their symptoms. However, radiotherapy has evolved dramatically in the last few years, so we wanted to see if it could now be used to prevent the cancer from spreading to nearby tissue, hopefully bringing improvements in survival.”
About 20% of the new radical treatment patients did develop radiation pneumonitis as a side effect. Professor Umberto Ricardi, President of ESTRO and head of the Department of Oncology at the University of Turin, Italy stated, “This is an extremely positive result that brings good news to patients with this rare and difficult-to-treat cancer. To ensure these patients benefit from this type of treatment, it’s important that they are referred to a specialist cancer centre with the right expertise and equipment to carefully plan and deliver the most effective radiotherapy treatment and manage any side effects that occur.”
New treatment doubles mesothelioma survival
Dr. Trovo said, “This research shows a clear survival benefit in using this type of radiotherapy for [patients with] mesothelioma whose tumors can only partially be removed by surgery. We believe that this should be considered the new standard of care for these patients.”
He believes that even longer survival rates could be made by using the new radiation technique followed by an immunotherapy technique that uses the patient’s immune system to target and fight the cancer cells. Creative scientific studies continue throughout the world with the goal of curing the deadly disease.