Several forms of mesothelioma treatment, such as the drug Alimta®, gene therapy, immunotherapy, photodynamic therapy, and multimodality therapy, are still in their experimental stages. We invite you to read the following articles on experimental therapies for malignant mesothelioma.
Many strategies of gene therapy are currently being investigated. Even though the results in animal experiments have been remarkable, they have proven to remain disappointing in humans. Other agents, such as onconase, thalidomide, and lovastatin, have been used as single therapy or in combination with chemotherapy with various results.
This therapy involves the removal of patient cells, activation by exposure to cytokines and reinstillatin into the peritoneum, accompanied by additional chemotherapy. In the few cases tried this form of treatment lead to significant shrinkage of the tumor. However most patients had very early stages of disease, and general recommendations are therefore difficult to make, prior to further research.
This therapy involves the use of a drug that makes the cancer cells sensitive to a particular wavelength of light. The drug is administered before the surgical procedure. The results have been disappointing, and no survival benefit has been shown in studies so far.
Doctors are always learning more about the best way to treat patients with mesotheliomas. The roles of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy in the treatment of mesothelioma are highly debated. Treatments which use some combinations of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, called multimodality therapy, are now being studied and may provide the most promising option for some patients.
David Sugarbaker, M.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Dr. Lary A. Robinson, M.D., Director, Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery