A new radiotherapy treatment can double the odds of surviving two or more years with pleural mesothelioma, according to a study performed by Dr. Marco Trovo at University Hospital of Udine in Italy. (asbestos.com)
Trovo is the top author of a mesothelioma treatment study that involved 109 patients treated for malignant mesothelioma from 2014 to 2018 at the National Cancer Institute in Aviano, Italy. He presented his findings earlier this month at the annual European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology Convention in Milan.
Trovo noted during his presentation that radiotherapy has evolved tremendously in the last several years. So he wanted to see if it could be used to prevent cancer from spreading to nearby tissues. His hope was to see an improvement in survival. The research conducted did show a clear survival benefit.
Trovo thinks the findings have the possibility to change the standard of care treatment for pleural mesothelioma, which is a rare, aggressive cancer that starts in the lung lining. It is caused by asbestos exposure.
Radiation May Provide Survival Benefits to Mesothelioma Patients
All of the mesothelioma patients in the study had one type of surgery, but none of them provided a total resection of the cancer. The patients also underwent adjuvant chemotherapy treatment. The randomized trial included 50% of the patients getting more traditional, palliative treatments of radiation that is given to most cancer patients at the majority of cancer centers.
The other 50% in the study got a more aggressive hemi-thoracic radiotherapy, which featured 25 treatments that were delivered to the side of the body where most of the tumor was located. The treatment also included a higher dose radiation treatment to the areas with the most and largest tumors. Almost 60% of the participants who got the more aggressive treatment regimen were still alive after two years.
Previous Studies Inconclusive
Common survival rates for pleural mesothelioma will vary depending on age of the patient, diagnosis state and the treatment delivered. One study found that just 41% of those over 65 live beyond a year. The percentage drops greatly for those who have inoperable cancer. Under 25% of those 65+ live two or more years.
About 20% of those in the clinical study getting the more aggressive radiation treatment experienced lung inflammation, which is called radiation pneumonitis. Other side effects of the treatment include nausea, weakness and inflammation in the esophagus.
Earlier clinical studies have been mixed at best in the evaluation of benefits of radiation therapies for various forms of mesothelioma.
Researchers of a clinical study published earlier this year in the Journal of Clinical Oncology discovered no benefit to radiation when it was given in combination with chemotherapy and advised it should not be used because of the side effects.
Another recent clinical study from the Icahn School of Medicine and Mount Sinai Hospital showed a higher increase in survival when there was a use of definitive radiation therapy. The Icahn study did a comparison of the 33% two-year survival with a 20% survival for mesothelioma patients who did not opt for more radiation therapy.
Trovo thinks the findings may encourage patients to get care at a cancer treatment speciality center that has the most advanced radiotherapy and the cancer treatment resources to handle possible side effects.
Mesothelioma is a almost always fatal cancer of the lung lining. It can take up to 50 years for the disease to appear after asbestos exposure. The tiny shards of asbestos get breathed into the lungs, most often in manufacturing and industrial work. The asbestos gets lodged in the delicate lung lining tissue. Over many years, those tiny shards of asbestos can change the DNA of some workers, which can cause mesothelioma to develop. While only 3000 new cases are diagnosed per year, mesothelioma is a deadly cancer and very difficult to treat.
The majority of the victims of this cancer are at least 50 and works in industry, manufacturing or shipping professions. The fact that it can take so many years for the disease to develop makes it harder to determine which company many have been responsible for exposing the worker to asbestos. However, a skilled mesothelioma attorney should have the resources available to find the company or companies responsible.
One of the issues with the development of mesothelioma is that most people do not have any idea they have the disease until symptoms present in Stage 3. These symptoms include chest pain and difficulty breathing. By this point, the deadly cancer has often spread to other areas of the body
One of the major problems with mesothelioma is that people are unaware of the seriousness of their condition until serious symptoms develop – typically chest pain and difficulty breathing that occur in Stage 3 of the disease. By that point, the cancer has usually spread to other areas such as the lymph system.
If you believe you were exposed to asbestos on the job, you should have your overall health reviewed every year. It is also important the doctor be familiar with mesothelioma. It is common for this very serious cancer to be misdiagnosed as the flu or a less serious form of cancer. If you get a diagnosis for mesothelioma, you should talk to a skilled, experienced mesothelioma attorney in your state today.
- Radiation Double Survival of Mesothelioma Patients. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.asbestos.com/news/2019/05/14/radiation-double-survival-mesothelioma/