If you or someone you love has been recently diagnosed with mesothelioma, you probably feel very scared, angry, frustrated and alone. Although mesothelioma is a rare condition and accounts for less than .3% of all cancer diagnoses, it significantly impacts the lives of the infected individuals and the lives of their loved ones as well. Every year, about 3000 new cases are diagnosed and the average life expectancy for someone who has been recently diagnosed with this life-threatening condition is one to two years. However, researchers and other medical professionals are working tirelessly to develop a cure, or at least better mesothelioma treatment options for individuals who have this condition.
The good news is that they are making some really great strides in the field of mesothelioma research. Every day, researchers around the world are studying the effects of medications for individuals with peritoneal, testicular, pleural or pericardial mesothelioma. Additionally, they are working with pharmaceutical companies to develop mesothelioma treatment to help individuals with this debilitating condition. And it’s evident that their research efforts are making a bit of headway.
For instance, we now know that mesothelioma is a complicated illness that typically occurs in the chest cavity and, more often than not, develops when the individual has been exposed to asbestos. We also know that most individuals with mesothelioma experience malignant or cancerous tumors within their mesothelium or mesothelial tissue and, as a result, they often experience unrelenting fatigue, fever, shortness of breath, muscle weakness, pain in their chest, and other symptoms as well.
Scientific researchers are currently evaluating how mesothelioma can be prevented and diagnosed even before it starts showing the above-mentioned symptoms. Additionally, researchers are currently evaluating mesothelioma treatment modalities to ease the suffering of mesothelioma patients.
Here are some current research findings:
- As the saying goes, prevention is always easier than finding a cure, especially when it relates to mesothelioma. Researchers in America are currently evaluating which asbestos fibers typically cause mesothelioma cancer and are trying to pinpoint the exact level of exposure that might be dangerous for individuals, specifically workers who regularly work with asbestos. For instance, the National Library of Medicine evaluated a study involving Asbestos Fiber Preparation Methods and How They Affect Fiber Toxicity. They evaluated wet and dry fibers of ground chrysotile ores and discovered that the dry ground fibers’ toxicity levels were significantly higher than their wet counterparts. Researchers further concluded that fiber preparation is important when accounting for asbestos fibers.
- Like other diseases, not everyone who has exposure to a causative agent, like asbestos, ends up with an illness and mesothelioma is no exception. Researchers are currently evaluating why some individuals who are exposed to mesothelioma obtain cancer and why others don’t. One factor they’re evaluating closely is genetics. Therefore, researchers are trying to determine if there are any genes that either cause or aggravate one’s chance of obtaining this particular type of cancer. In a study reported by the Family Cancer journal, researchers evaluated the genetic makeup of a family with several cases of malignant mesothelioma. They found that certain genes can predispose a person, as well as their family members, to this type of cancer.
- As stated previously, some types of mesothelioma are directly correlated to tumors being formed on the fine lining of organs, especially on the patient’s lungs and stomach. As a result, breathing issues and pain around the chest are often experienced by the patient. However, the aggressive nature of this disease is a huge challenge for medical professionals who are trying to treat such patients. Therefore, many scientists are now focusing on early detection methods and using more advanced screening tests to diagnose it long before it creates any health issues. Chest X-rays, thoracentesis or fluid drainage, a chest CT scan and a biopsy with CT or thoracoscopy or pleuroscopy are the confirmatory tests a patient has to undergo. To determine the stage of this cancer a PET scan, broncoscopy, breathing test and several blood tests are done. Details can be viewed at https://foundation.chestnet.org/patient-education-resources/mesothelioma/ )
- Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, medical professionals want to alleviate the suffering of patients who have this condition. Therefore, they are currently conducting clinical studies on surgical procedures, chemotherapy, radio therapy, photodynamic therapy, targeted therapy, and even immunotherapy as they firmly believe that these procedures might enable them to strengthen patients’ immune systems and help them fight the illness. To explain further, we’ll discuss a few more therapies/mesothelioma treatments that are being evaluated:
- Photodynamic therapy and targeted therapy are relatively new mesothelioma treatment methods. Photodynamic therapy is usually carried out after surgery. During this procedure, a drug that is light-activated is placed into a patient’s body intravenously. Afterwards, a tool with a special light is inserted into the lung, which makes the injected fluid active to kill the cancerous cells. It has fewer side effects and has so far proved to be effective. Similarly, targeted therapy refers to a different category of drugs that work well on cancer-affected cells without destroying the person’s non-cancerous cells. Additionally, immunotherapy (5) medications help increase immunity to fight the disease and its related health hazards.
- Doctors are also hopeful about the new chemotherapy medicines, which are based on combined formulas. Some common medications are Alimta and Cisplatin as they are quite effective when they’re combined and used to treat mesothelioma. Another effective combination drug treatment is Alimta and Carboplatin. Other helpful drugs are Gemcitabine, Doxorubicin and Navelbine.
- Additionally, mesothelioma patients are being treated with alternating electric fields, also known as TTF or tumor treating fields. In this method, doctors place a few electrodes on the patient’s chest to expose the cancerous cells to the mild electric waves generated by the electrodes, once they are connected to a battery. This destroys cancer-affected cells, impacting the good cells less.
- Research is currently being conducted with regard to genetic treatment (14). In this method, new genes are pushed into cancer-affected cells, helping us kill them easily. Special types of viruses are being generated in the labs for injecting into the pleural region of the patient to attack, infect and destroy the cancerous cells.
New vaccines to help prevent mesothelioma are also being researched heavily. Researchers hope to use them to activate the immune system in a human body to prevent the growth of diseased cells. There are two processes being evaluated. The first involves taking the immune cells out from the patient’s body and injecting them back in after treating those cells in the lab so that they become aggressive in attacking the cancer-affected body parts. In the other study, certain proteins are injected into the affected cells of the patient’s body, which stops their growth. For additional information, visit this site.
In conclusion, if your life or the life of your loved one is being impacted by mesothelioma, it is normal to feel a wide range of emotions and to feel as if you’re all alone. However, you are definitely not alone. We care and the medical community cares too. By working together, we can and will find better mesothelioma treatment options and a cure for mesothelioma patients.