According to a new study, there is no doubt: Immunotherapy for mesothelioma helps patients survive for longer.

The study, published in Clinical Lung Cancer and online at the National Library of Medicine, examines the survival of patients receiving different multimodal treatment regimens for mesothelioma. The authors are doctors working at various medical centers in California.

The multimodal therapies examined are surgery, immunotherapy and chemotherapy. Authors studied the survival of patients receiving combinations of these three, including those who only had chemotherapy.

 

Looking at the Different Mesothelioma Treatment Options

Surgery, chemotherapy and immunotherapy are the three main therapies used for mesothelioma. Surgery is the first option if patients are healthy enough and the mesothelioma tumors haven’t spread beyond the lung cavity.

Surgery for mesothelioma is the best because doctors can remove large chunks of tumor, including the main tumor, from the patient’s body. This takes out spreading cancer and also relieves the lungs.

The second option remains a debate between immunotherapy and chemotherapy. Immunotherapy for mesothelioma is a drug that inhibits some form of the cancer cells. This inhibition helps the immune system activate and react to cancer. The immune system’s T cells benefit from immunotherapy and can be at their full strength against mesothelioma.

Chemotherapy is a drug that kills cells – both healthy and cancerous – in its path. While this therapy can push cancer into a quick retreat, it also can make patients feel ill due to the damage inflicted to healthy blood cells.

 

How to Use Immunotherapy for Mesothelioma in Multimodal Therapy

There were 179 patients included in the study. All of them had pleural mesothelioma, which is a cancer forming in the lining of the lungs. This lining, called the pleura, is made of mesothelial cells. It is a protective buffer separating the lungs and chest wall.

The four multimodal combinations examined were:

  • Chemotherapy alone
  • Immunotherapy with or without chemotherapy
  • Surgery with chemotherapy
  • Surgery with immunotherapy and chemotherapy

Not surprisingly, patients receiving a trimodal approach (three types of treatment) had the best survival rates. The group having surgery, immunotherapy and chemotherapy had a median survival of nearly 23 months. This length was the highest of the four groups.

The other three groups’ median survival times were:

  • Chemotherapy alone – 11.7 months
  • Immunotherapy with or without chemotherapy – 18.2 months
  • Surgery with chemotherapy – 20.7 months

 

Surgery and Immunotherapy Outshine Chemotherapy

Surgery significantly helped patients, which is also not surprising. Surgical patients survived a median of 22 months, and nonsurgical patients survived for around 14 months.

Immunotherapy seems like the next best option, and should be used before and/or after surgery in a dual-modality regimen. The median survival for patients:

  • Receiving immunotherapy was 19.7 months
  • Not receiving immunotherapy was 12.3 months

Additionally, biphasic/sarcomatoid subtypes benefited from immunotherapy. The 12-month survival rate was 76% for this group after immunotherapy, but only 13.6% for patients who didn’t receive immunotherapy.

The results clearly show that immunotherapy should be a necessary part of multimodal mesothelioma treatment in most cases.

If you’d like to find a cancer center for multimodal mesothelioma treatment, let our patient advocates help. Email Karen Ritter, RN, at karen@mesotheliomaguide.com. She can help you find a cancer center for surgery or immunotherapy.

    Sources & Author

    • Comparison of Survival by Multimodal Treatment Regimen Among Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Patients in an Integrated Health System. Clinical Lung Cancer. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36216742/. Accessed: 10/17/2022.
Devin Goldan image

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is the content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.

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    Sources & Author

Picture of Devin Golden

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is the content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.