Every year, cancer doctors and researchers from around the country meet to discuss the latest in cancer care and treatment. This year, speakers presented a new hope for patients with relapsed mesothelioma: immunotherapy.
The study focused on patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), which affects the lining of the lungs. Patients involved in the study had relapsing MPM.
Currently, chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation (or a combination of the three) are the top methods for treating mesothelioma. Immunotherapy uses a person’s own immune system to fight cancer.
Meso Patients Opt-In to Study, With Promising Results
For the study, researchers enrolled 125 patients with MPM who suffered a relapse after chemotherapy. They divided the patients into two groups: one took the immunotherapy drug Opdivo, and the other took a different immunotherapy drug called Yervoy.
Tumors shrunk in 18% of the patients who took Opdivo, while 26% of patients who took Yervoy experienced tumor shrinkage. The difference in survival was modest, but about one month longer in the Yervoy group (5.6 months).
On the other hand, 10% of patients taking Opdivo, and 18% of patients taking Yervoy, experienced severe side effects from their treatments. Also, three patients from the Yervoy group died of complications or illnesses that could have been related to their treatment.
Further research will answer questions like when immunotherapy should be used, and for how long, to avoid severe side effects. Right now it’s too early to tell whether immunotherapy is a realistic treatment option for MPM, but researchers and doctors are hopeful. Immunotherapy may one day be a new standard of care for mesothelioma.
Related: Immunotherapy for Mesothelioma
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