Mesothelioma Chemotherapy Treatment Improves Survival Rate

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Mesothelioma is an aggressive and rare disease that affects the lining of several vital organs in the body. Almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos, mesothelioma affects 2,000 to 3,000 people each year in the United States.

Chemotherapy is considered one of the traditional forms of treatment, along with surgery and radiation.

Malignant peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common form of the cancer and this form of the disease has shown improved response to chemotherapy in recent studies.

In an Australian study titled “Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma,” which tracked the epidemiology and new treatment advancements of peritoneal cancer, researchers detailed a chemotherapy treatment that combined the chemotherapeutic drugs pemetrexed and cisplatin. The study presented a median survival of 13 months and one-year survival of 66 percent in 66 patients. Patients (32) who received pemetrexed alone displayed a nine-month median survival and 0 percent one-year survival rate.

A new treatment study that showed very promising results utilizing a combination of cytoreductive surgery and intraperitoneal hyperthermic chemotherapy was conducted at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. Using this treatment combination, 49 patients experienced a median survival of 92 months with a five-year survival rate of 59 percent. Other cancer hospitals recorded similar survival rates while utilizing these treatments.

While many treatment options have been of palliative nature in the past, new chemotherapy treatments for peritoneal cancer have given patients hope that some treatments may be curative. Due to the treatments being largely experimental, they can carry an enhanced risk of morbidity or mortality. However, the researchers in this study suggest that a combined treatment option may be the new standard of care.

New biomarkers discussed in this study helped doctors detect the disease in its earlier stages and lead to earlier treatment. Early detection has always been the key to effectively treating the disease and increasing the life expectancy of mesothelioma patients.


Joining the team in February 2008 as a writer and editor, Michelle Whitmer has translated medical jargon into patient-friendly information at Asbestos.com for more than eight years. Michelle is a registered yoga teacher, a member of the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine, and was quoted by The New York Times on the risks of asbestos exposure. If you have a story idea for Michelle, please email her at michelle@asbestos.com.

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