Pioneering Mesothelioma Chemotherapy Research in Illinois
Illinois ranks No. 7 in the nation for mesothelioma and asbestosis deaths. The state’s high ranking is largely caused by a long history of industrial work.
Many workers were exposed to asbestos products used in factories, manufacturing plants, mills, power plants and other industrial settings.
The state has allocated resources to meet the medical needs of asbestos workers with some of the best mesothelioma treatment centers and research facilities in the world.
For example, the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center has conducted clinical trials that revolutionized chemotherapy for mesothelioma. One trial led to U.S. Food and Drug Administration approvals for cisplatin and Alimta (pemetrexed), now the standard-of-care chemotherapy combination for mesothelioma treatment.
Chicago: A Hub for Mesothelioma Treatment
Many mesothelioma patients in Illinois visit Loyola University Medical Center, just west of Chicago, to receive multidisciplinary care from a team of mesothelioma experts. The center also offers mesothelioma clinical trials and conducts immunotherapy research.
Patients also visit the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center to access clinical trials and some of the nation’s top mesothelioma doctors. Research conducted here has led to new standards of care for mesothelioma, making it one of the best mesothelioma research centers in the world.
Top Mesothelioma Doctors in Illinois
Pleural mesothelioma patients in Illinois who qualify for surgery may work with Dr. Wickii Vigneswaran, a thoracic surgeon at Loyola with more than 30 years of experience treating the rare cancer.
Vigneswaran is an expert in robotic surgery, which reduces complications and shortens recovery time for patients.
Peritoneal and pleural mesothelioma patients see Dr. Hedy Kindler at the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center. She serves as the director of the mesothelioma program and as the medical director for gastrointestinal oncology. Kindler understands her patients in a way that most doctors can’t because she lost her father to mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma Clinical Trials in Illinois
Illinois is home to some of the world’s best research facilities and innovative mesothelioma clinical trials. Research conducted in the state has led to major breakthroughs in mesothelioma treatment.
A number of mesothelioma clinical trials are currently recruiting participants in Illinois.
A phase II clinical trial of the immunotherapy drugs Yervoy (ipilimumab) and Opdivo (nivolumab) is enrolling patients with peritoneal mesothelioma. This trial is available at numerous hospitals and medical facilities throughout Illinois.
The University of Chicago is participating in a phase II and phase III clinical trial of a new drug called ADI-PEG 20 in combination with chemotherapy. This is a randomized trial that includes a placebo group, which means some patients will receive chemotherapy and a placebo instead of the new drug.
More than 30 locations in Illinois are participating in a phase I clinical trial testing the efficacy of an immunotherapy drug in combination with chemotherapy, surgery and radiation in patients with stage 1, stage 2 or stage 3 pleural mesothelioma. The immunotherapy drug is a monoclonal antibody called Tecentriq (atezolizumab), which researchers hope will attack any remaining cancer cells after surgery.
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Mesothelioma Survivors from Illinois
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survivor
When F.X. Dickert was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in 2015, he decided to undergo cytoreductive surgery with heated chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the cancer came back and he underwent the same procedure two more times within several years. Each procedure helped control the cancer for a period of time. In 2017, his surgeon referred him to Kindler, who recommended an immunotherapy clinical trial at the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center to keep the cancer in control. “I’m already supposed to be dead, according to the doctors who I saw first, but I’ve still got a long list of things to do yet,” Dickert said. “I’ve got people to see, places to go. My glass is always half full. That’s not going to stop now.”
Pleural Mesothelioma Survivor
Kathy Angerman was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in 2010 and underwent a pleurectomy and decortication surgery. The procedure successfully controlled her cancer for several years until it returned in 2013. She decided to join an immunotherapy clinical trial at the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center, and it controlled her cancer growth for six months. When the cancer returned, she went back on chemotherapy. “I’m a walking miracle,” Angerman said. “We all know mesothelioma doesn’t stop by itself, and that chemotherapy only does so much for so long. So there’s really no other way to explain what has happened, except that God has been good to me.”
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Last Modified February 11, 2020