We often discuss the results of clinical trials so let’s discuss clinical trials in more depth: who participates, what’s being tested, how clinical trials change treatment of future mesothelioma patients.
MCA Staff Writers
Presenting Up-to-Date Mesothelioma Topics
While a cure for mesothelioma does not exist currently, doctors are working tirelessly to gain a greater understanding of genetic cues that can potentially lead to a cure for mesothelioma. Understanding genetic cues, like genomic mutations, can inform doctors of how mesothelioma develops in patients, which could lead to earlier detection of the disease and creation of individualized treatments for improved prognoses for patients.
A woman came down with mesothelioma but she could not recall any obvious source for exposure to asbestos. Neither she nor any family member worked in a shipyard. No asbestos insulation was reported in her house. The roads did not contain any gravel containing asbestos fibers.
One of the major challenges of mesothelioma is early or earlier diagnosis. Mesothelioma causes pleural effusion or fluid build-up between the layers of the lining of the lung cavity in about 70% of its cases.1 About 1.5 million people are diagnosed with pleural effusion in the US each year. Since about 3000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year, most cases of pleural effusions are not due to mesothelioma. However, finding mesothelioma in the pleural effusion or pleural soup could provide an early or earlier diagnosis.
Malignant peritoneal mesothelioma is cancer that develops in the abdominal cavity (peritoneal cavity), like polka dots on the lining of the intestines and the cavity. Peritoneal cases account for approx. 18%- 20% of all mesothelioma diagnoses,1 with approximately 400 new cases in the USA each year.2
Any treatment that doubles the length of survival for cancer patients is a SMART treatment for any cancer, especially mesothelioma. The “SMART” treatment stands for Surgery for Mesothelioma After Radiation Therapy.1 Drs. Cho and colleagues tested the feasibility of treating mesothelioma with precisely delivered radiation therapy first, before surgery in 25 patients.1 The idea is to fry most of the mesothelioma cells with radiation therapy and then remove any remaining tumor and any damaged lung tissue.
Each day, doctors and research and health organizations are working to better understand the development process of cancer. By understanding how a disease develops, doctors and researchers can create more targeted treatment protocols for patients.
For mesothelioma patients, a number of factors come into play when trying to determine what treatment options will be most effective. For patients who choose to undergo chemotherapy treatments, the commonly used combination of pemetrexed and cisplatin is shown to have potentially harmful effects on a patient's kidneys.
For mesothelioma patients, there is a potential new treatment option involving photodynamic therapy.What is photodynamic therapy?
Photodynamic therapy uses a laser that produces light at a specific wavelength and a chemical called a photosensitizing agent in a three step process:
Cancer isn’t something that people plan for, especially financially. The most obvious cancer-related costs people have to deal with pertain directly to treatment and recovery. However, other unexpected costs can add up quickly for both patients and the friends and family around them.
While asbestos exposure is the most commonly known cause for mesothelioma, it has also been discovered that a mineral called erionite can be a cause as well. One case of erionite-induced mesothelioma has been reported in a male living in North Dakota.1 Similar cases with eronite-induced mesothelioma have also been reported in areas of Turkey. Because chronic erionite exposure must last decades before mesothelioma develops in the cases in Turkey, this single case report suggested that North Dakota (ND) may have a source for chronic erionite exposure.
Chronic exposure to asbestos fibers is a major risk factor for development of mesothelioma. How asbestos induces asbestos-related disease, including mesothelioma, is being investigated and probably involves several mechanisms.
The 4th International Symposium on Lung Sparing Therapies for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma showed the spotlight on lung-sparing surgical techniques, lung-sparing adjuvant therapies, supportive therapies and potential future adjuvant therapies on June 7th, 2014.
Mesothelioma, like many cancers, has several ways to hide from the immune response and keep growing. Ideally, a person’s T cells would recognize the mesothelioma cells when they first become cancerous and kill them. Unfortunately, in some people, their T cells don’t recognize the mesothelioma cells as cancer and the mesothelioma cells continue to divide… and divide… and divide until the person has symptoms.
In honor of Skin Cancer Awareness month, we are reviewing the effect of sunlight on human health and treatment of mesothelioma and lung cancers.Effect of Sunlight on Human Health
Sunburn damages skin and can increase the rate of some skin cancers,1 whereas sunlight in moderation promotes a healthy glow in people. Sunlight exposure helps regulate our circadian rhythms (day-night cycle), hormone levels, and vitamin D levels. Humans need 5 minutes of exposure to sunlight in their eyes to maintain the day-night cycles coordinated by the pineal gland. The pineal gland produces higher quantities of melatonin in the evening which helps regulate the circadian rhythms, the immune system, and hormone levels.2
Cancer patients and physicians often face the question, “Will this treatment benefit this individual patient?” Scientists prefer to answer this question by measuring a biomarker in the blood, urine or tumor tissue from the patient.
The question is bound to linger in any cancer survivor’s mind: what if it comes back? Cancer can recur even if it seems that treatment was successful. Cancer cells can sometimes linger undetected and slowly regrow until you become symptomatic. Your genes may have been altered by the cancer in such a way that you’re vulnerable to a new form of the disease.
When a patient receives a cancer diagnosis, a spouse, parent, or close friend often takes on a caregiver role. Since they are not paid, they are called informal caregivers or family caregivers. Most caregivers are women (60%), middle-aged, and have a full time job (59%).
A cancer diagnosis sends chills down most people’s spine and triggers much stress. The stress can appear as fear, brain overload, slowness, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, worry about one’s life and loved ones, less interest in life, and occasionally nausea, and vomiting. Some people feel the stress as a hassled feeling of not enough time to get everything done, reliving regrets, and wanting to spend more time with family and friends.
The recent discovery of windblown asbestos dust near Las Vegas, NV has drawn new attention to the phenomenon of naturally occurring asbestos (NOA). Dr. Brenda Buck, a UNLV geologist, was testing for arsenic and other toxic chemicals when she unexpectedly found a different, but equally dangerous, substance: actinolite, one of six minerals categorized as asbestos. She and her colleagues published a paper last year detailing their findings, which focused on the area around Boulder City, a small town 20 miles southeast of Las Vegas.