When a patient is first diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, the diagnostic process quickly turns to staging: physicians need to understand exactly how far the tumors have spread within the body so that they can select the appropriate course of treatment. All too frequently tumors are diagnosed as “unresectable,” which means that surgical removal is not a possibility. Losing an aggressive course of treatment like surgery can be disheartening, as it generally leaves only chemotherapy and radiation therapy as options. The development of new medications like avelumab, an anti tumor medication, is giving these patients new hope, especially in light of the most recent clinical trial conducted by researchers at the National Cancer Institute.
Speaking of the challenges faced by patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, lead investigator Raffit Hassan, MD, Thoracic and GI Malignancies Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland explained that, “Patients with malignant mesothelioma whose disease has progressed after platinum and pemetrexed treatment have limited options.” This statement underlines the need to find a course of treatment that will be both safe and effective.
Writing in the journal JAMA Oncology of the results of a study he and his colleagues conducted, Hassan explains that previous research had already shown that the drug demonstrated anti tumor activity against mesothelioma tumors, but that research had not actually been conducted on actual patients who had previously been treated with other chemotherapy treatments. The group examined the results achieved in a group of 53 patients who were treated between September 2014 and July 2015 at a variety of facilities in the United States and around the world. Patients treated with avelumab, many of whom had previously undergone as many as three or more chemotherapy treatments, experienced positive progression-free survival, including one with a complete response and four with what is considered partial responses. Most encouraging of all, the median progression-free survival was 4.1 months and the 12-month progression free survival rate was 17.4 percent, while those with positive responses had median overall survival of 15.2 months. The researchers concluded that “Avelumab showed durable antitumor activity and disease control with an acceptable safety profile in a heavily pretreated cohort of patients with mesothelioma.”
If you have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, it means that you were exposed to asbestos at some point in your life. If you need information on getting assistance in pursuing justice from those who are responsible for your illness, we can help. Contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.