Cancer researchers and experts from around the globe are agreeing that, with better prognostic tools and more tailored chemotherapy plans, treatment of mesothelioma could improve drastically in the next few years.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is notoriously resistant to traditional cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgical resection. This contributes to the disease’s extraordinarily low prognosis, and patients are usually told they will not survive longer than one year. This poor prognosis is due in part to the only known cause of mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos, which typically goes unnoticed and untested for decades, and by the time doctors diagnose the disease, it has already spread and advanced significantly.
Mesothelioma cancer affects the entire linings of the lungs, heart, or abdomen, and is therefore very difficult to treat. For many mesothelioma patients, chemotherapy simply does not work, gives disappointing results, has toxic side effects, and can even contribute to an earlier death. Chemotherapy treatments are currently based solely on the stage of the cancer and its spread. For example, regardless of the cancer type, patients with stage three cancer of the lung are always prescribed the same types of chemotherapy regimens, out of thousands of combinations. These regimens come from the results of studies from oncology groups and pharmaceutical companies.
This is the inherent problem with chemotherapy treatments, and is why they are often ineffective, particularly in mesothelioma patients. Some of the most popular, ‘blockbuster’ chemotherapy treatments only extended life expectancy for three to five months. This is because cancer staging and typing is simply not enough information to efficiently target and destroy cancer cells in each unique patient. Even among mesothelioma patients, cancer cells and types are exceedingly different. In other words, for chemotherapy treatments, one size does not fit all.
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Testing individual patients for information such as genetic factors, molecular pathways, and cell mechanisms, can provide a sort of blueprint from which doctors can determine the best route of treatment. These prognostic tools are relatively new and most large healthcare institutions are unable to move in pace with modern developments. Most also have large investments in the older, more traditional systems, which is why genetic testing and profiling is not used more commonly.
Determining the best treatment options is done by testing the cancer cells, collecting data, and then matching the data to scientific research papers and studies from around the world. This can provide patients with specific, tailored treatment options that they would not have otherwise known about. One study found that an estimated 75% of cancer patients are currently on the wrong chemotherapy regimen.
With tailored treatments, patients can enjoy less harmful side effects, improved healing, and better outcomes. Many cancer treatment centers combine immunotherapy and advanced natural treatments to further improve survival.
When cancer is treated with chemotherapy, it can mutate and change, rendering the prescribed regimen is no longer effective. Immune system monitoring and genetic typing is critical to blocking this mutation and spread.
In one Italian study, cancer researchers used what they described as the “biological fingerprint” of the tumor to summarize the factors that influence mesothelioma prognosis and targeted therapy. Researchers used clinical factors to create a more accurate picture of the mesothelioma tumors. The list of clinical factors used for this analysis is long, but includes CT scanning, enzyme disturbances, prognostic scoring systems, serum biomarkers, and hematological disorders (such as anemia).
The researchers noted that these factors will help formulate an early diagnosis and develop individualized treatment plans. Many doctors are predicting that this kind of genetic blueprint treatment will become the national, if not global standard within the next five to seven years.
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Mesothelioma lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm are excited to report about the new developments in this field. With genetic testing and tumor profiling, doctors will be better able to prescribe optimum treatment plans to their patients. Mesothelioma, like asbestosis and many other forms of lung cancer, is directly caused by exposure to asbestos. If you or someone you love was exposed to asbestos, and developed a related disease, you have important rights, and should contact a skilled asbestos exposure attorney immediately for a free consultation.