Study Says Mesothelioma Treatment Needs More Personalization

“Despite more than two decades of intensive research on the possible treatments for malignant plural mesothelioma, or MPM, the results have so far been disappointing. Chemotherapy with cytotoxic drugs is the only treatment that has been proven to improve patients’ outcomes.”

That’s a paragraph from a recent study penned by numerous doctors and researchers at the University of Palermo in Italy, expressing concern that the world and its scientists seem not to be making any notable progress towards finding new and better treatments for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM).

mpm treatment studyIn an article that appeared in the journal Clinical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology, entitled “The resistance related to targeted therapy in malignant pleural mesothelioma: Why has not the target been hit yet?”, Giuseppi Bronte et al stated their concern that malignant pleural mesothelioma was still being treated as a “single disease”, managed in a one-size-fits-all manner that, indeed, does NOT fit all.

“Patients are likely to respond differently to therapies, and it is vital that the research community continues to search for parameters to help to deliver the best treatment approach for each individual patient,” they wrote. “Improving our knowledge on the molecular changes and signaling pathways specific to MPM should help in the identification of biomarkers useful to develop personalized treatments based on the biological characteristics of each specific tumor ultimately offering better survival outcomes and quality of life for MPM patients.”

The authors tout the importance of looking more carefully at the possibilities of long-term immunotherapy for mesothelioma patients. Some trials are currently being conducted using Opdivo and Keytruda, two such drugs that have shown some success in the treatment of malignant melanoma and other non-small cell lung cancers.

These drugs are especially worth the attention of the medical research world, they note, because mesothelioma’s often very long latency period suggests that some sort of immune system deregulation may play an important role in the development of the disease and when it appears.

In addition, they advocate for the use of the most appropriate drug for each individual patient, not just a sweeping treatment protocol for anyone who presents with malignant pleural mesothelioma.

For current patients, it’s essential to locate an oncologist who understands mesothelioma and its characteristics. Because it remains a fairly rare form of cancer compared to others, such as breast or lung cancer, mesothelioma hasn’t received as much attention.

Therefore, oncologists who treat all sorts of cancer tend not to be as well-versed about the disease as may be necessary for successful treatment.

That’s why it’s often necessary for patients to travel to a large cancer clinic or other renowned hospital in order to receive the best treatment available, which may include participation in cutting-edge clinical trials.