Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is notoriously difficult to detect, treat, and battle. There is not yet an established, standardized form of treatment, because current approaches are unsatisfactory and have not been proven to substantially prolong survival. To date, the expected survival for mesothelioma patients is about one year, mostly attributed to late detection. Mesothelioma takes decades to develop in the body, but once established, the disease spreads rapidly, affecting other major organs and rendering traditional curative surgery impossible. Of all mesothelioma treatment options, asbestos exposure attorneys found multimodal and trimodal treatments to be the most effective and to have the highest chance of long-term survival.
Mesothelioma is traditionally treated with chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapy. The combination of two or all three of these therapies is called multimodal and trimodal treatment. Only those patients diagnosed in the cancer’s earliest stages are eligible for curative surgery, such as pleurectomy decortications (PD) and extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP), although patients in later stages often undergo these surgeries as a palliative treatment. PD is a less invasive, lung sparing surgery, which removes the tumor and infected pleural linings. EPP is considered a more radical surgery, because it removes the entire affected lung, diaphragm, and pericardium. Only a fraction of mesothelioma patients are eligible for EPP, and it extremely dangerous.
Chemotherapy is perhaps the most well-known cancer treatment, administered with pharmaceuticals aimed to reduce and destroy cancer cells. The recent introduction of pemetrexed-based chemotherapy drugs has improved the efficacy of this treatment for mesothelioma patients, although only about 15 to 20% of patients see a notable reduction in tumor size. Clinical trials around the world are combining several chemotherapy drugs to determine the best mode of chemical therapy. For example, one such trial recently determined that a combination of pemetrexed and cisplatin prolonged patient survival time by an average of 2.8 months.
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Radiation therapy is often used to manage the debilitating symptoms of mesothelioma. As the name suggests, this therapy uses ionizing radiation to destroy cancer cells and reduce tumors. Radiation is most often administered after surgeries, and usually targets the metastasized cancer (cancer that has spread). One study by the University of Colorado Cancer Center found that even when targeted mesothelioma treatment stopped working, it was possible to kill the metastasized areas with focused radiation. Researchers found that radiation benefits were especially vigorous when targeted at the brain.
Columbia University is currently recruiting participants for a clinical trial involving a multimodal lung-sparing regimen. This trial includes surgery, interpleural and intravenous chemotherapy, and local radiation, and is classified as a safety and efficacy study. Columbia’s trial aims to determine the feasibility of a multimodal lung sparing regimen, and will last 20 weeks. The intrapleural chemotherapy (doxorubicin and cisplatin) will last 12 weeks, and will be administered within two weeks after surgery. Approximately 30 days after the last dose of chemotherapy, the patients will be reassessed for resolution of any treatment-related toxicity which may have occurred during the course of study participation.
The potential significance of this research is that such treatment may render it less necessary to surgically remove the affected lungs in whole or in part, in order to achieve significant disease reduction. Columbia hopes to alter the currently accepted paradigm that major lung surgery is an inescapable component of such treatment, and advance the concept that a combination of preparative surgery, systemic chemotherapy, and drug treatment of the pleural surfaces may offer the best hope for prolonged survival with intact lung function.
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Mesothelioma attorneys champion the efforts of researchers throughout the United States and in other nations who are attempting to prolong the survival for mesothelioma patients. We understand that this disease is devastating, not only to those victims but to their families as well. Multimodal and trimodal therapy has been proven to improve the overall quality of life and survival for mesothelioma patients, and should be seriously considered by anyone diagnosed. If you or someone you love was exposed to asbestos and developed a related illness, contact an experienced mesothelioma lawyer today for a free legal consultation.