Monday, February 20, 2012

Are There Any Promising Treatments For Mesothelioma? by Wendy Moyer

Malignant mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is usually caused by the inhalation or swallowing of asbestos fibers.

If it affects the chest the physician might look inside the chest cavity with an instrument called a thoracoscope. If it affects the abdomen the physician might look inside the abdomen with an instrument called a peritoneoscope. If mesothelioma is suspected a sample is taken that is then diagnosed by a biopsy.

Like with most other types of cancer, the outlook for mesothelioma patients will depend upon how early it is detected and how aggressively it is treated.

One of the big challenges is that it usually takes anywhere from twenty to fifty or more years after asbestos exposure for the symptoms of the disease to become apparent. And by that time it is often in an advanced stage.

Therefore, mesothelioma victims will often succumb to the disease within one to two years after it has been diagnosed.

However, there is some hope for the victims of this life-threatening disease in that new approaches to treating malignant mesothelioma are now being tested. These treatments are often a combination of traditional treatments. Or they can include something that is entirely new.

Drug Therapy

There are a number of drugs that are now being studied that offer some promise in the treatment of malignant mesothelioma.

- L-NDDP (Platar®) - this is a platinum product that is administered intrapleuraly. It is designed to overcome the drug resistance and toxicity that has limited the usefulness of other platinum drugs such as Cisplatin®. Two patients were in remission in a recent trial of this drug.

- Endostatin - this is a promising drug in that it has worked with angiostatin to destroy the ability of a tumor to grow blood vessels and not harm normal cells.

- A cholesterol drug called Lovastatin® has recently been show that it has the potential to inhibit the cell growth of mesothelioma cancer.

- The direct administration of intrapleural interferon gamma has also shown promise.


In addition photodynamic therapy, sometimes called photochemotherapy, uses an intravenously administered photosensitizing agent that selectively concentrates in tumor cells. When the tumor tissue is then exposed to a special red laser light a lot of the tumor can be destroyed.


Another recent approach to treating mesothelioma is immunotherapy. This tactic helps the immune system fight mesothelioma.

Gene Therapy

Gene therapy shows promise as well. A study done in September 1999 found that the growth of mesothelioma cells in mice was prevented with interferon interleukin.