A new method of administering chemotherapy to patients diagnosed with mesothelioma and other cancers has been tested in France, with mixed results. The procedure’s intent is to avoid the damage to healthy cells that can occur when chemotherapy is dosed intravenously, and it appears to be successful in that goal, but there is also a downside: physicians are too inexperienced in the technique and unable to determine which patients will be able to withstand the rigors of the procedure. Several patients involved in the study died of complications shortly thereafter, and now researchers need to determine how best to select the right patients, as well as how to overcome a steep learning curve.
The technique was tested on patients diagnosed with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma, as well as cancers of the ovaries, colorectal system, and other abdominal cancers. It is known as PIPAC, or pressurized intraperitoneal aerosol chemotherapy, and it is specifically meant to provide an answer for patients whose cancerous tumors are deemed inoperable. It involves making small port incisions in the abdomen and then spraying a solution of chemotherapy drugs onto the tumors, coating them with the medication without allowing it to come into contact with other, healthy cells.
Of the 73 patients involved in the French study, 63.5 percent were shown to have significant improvements following the procedure. All of them had the process done at least twice, and one had it done 6 times. Those for whom it was successful experienced tremendous relief from the diarrhea and constipation, pain and bloating that had characterized their symptoms. But those patients were the lucky ones. Another 10% of those involved in the study suffered severe complications following the treatment, and 5 patients died. The overall mortality rate for the first 20 patients treated using the technique was 40% with a complication rate of 62%. Though this improved as physicians learned the procedure and became more comfortable with it, the numbers clearly point to a need for greater understanding and experience before the protocol can be recommended to patients diagnosed with mesothelioma or other abdominal cancers.
As medical science continues to discover new methods of treating mesothelioma, patients find themselves wondering which are their best options, and how to pay for the expensive therapies that can extend their lives and relieve their symptoms. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and you need information on the resources available to you, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.