The COVID‑19 coronavirus pandemic put a lot of clinical trials on hold due to limitations and reservations regarding on‑site cancer treatment.

This was bad news in the efforts to find a cure for mesothelioma.

Fortunately, a study seven years in the making is back open and accepting new participants.

The Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia opened a trial for intraoperative photodynamic therapy in 2014. It’s a phase 2 study comparing radical pleurectomy with decortication (P/D) with and without photodynamic therapy. It has room for 102 patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.

If you’d like to apply, contact our team. Karen Ritter, our registered nurse, can assist you in finding a clinical trial. If you live close by or can travel to the northeast, this study might be a good fit for you. Email Karen at


Specifics of the Intraoperative PDT Trial

The study is split into two arms: experimental and control/comparative. In the experimental arm, patients will receive 2 mg/kg of the photodynamic therapy drug “Photofrin.” This is a light‑sensitive drug that causes a chemical reaction within mesothelioma cells.

Doctors will administer Photofrin intravenously 24 hours prior to radical P/D surgery. Patients also will receive chemotherapy after surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy).

The other arm of patients won’t receive intraoperative photodynamic therapy, instead just undergoing radical P/D surgery and receiving adjuvant chemotherapy.

The primary outcome measures are:

  • Overall survival
  • Progression‑free survival
  • Disease control


Pairing PDT With Radical P/D Surgery

Radical pleurectomy with decortication for mesothelioma removes the entire pleura. This is where pleural mesothelioma forms. Surgeons also take out part or all of the:

  • Diaphragm
  • Pericardium

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) for mesothelioma uses a light‑sensitive drug to kill cancerous cells. This drug is called a photosensitizer. Doctors insert the drug into the body, wait for mesothelioma cells to absorb it, shine a light on the drug, and wait for it to activate and kill the cancer cells with a chemical.

Intraoperative PDT involves light shining directly into the open chest cavity during or immediately following disease resection. This provides direct access for the light to hit the photosensitizing agent. PDT usually lasts one hour after surgery finishes.

Dr. Joseph Friedberg at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenbaum Comprehensive Cancer Center is a proponent of intraoperative PDT with radical P/D surgery. He reported a four‑year survival rate of 80% from a 14‑patient study.

    Sources & Author

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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