Personalized Treatment for Mesothelioma May be Available Within a Decade
Mesothelioma, a rare, incurable cancer of the lining of the lungs or abdomen, has challenged the medical community for years. Mesothelioma is diagnosed in 2,000 to 3,000 American’s each year, with just as many dying from the disease. Although researchers have made progress in recent years, the ability to identify an effective treatment modality for each patient combating the fatal disease remains elusive. According to several well known mesothelioma specialists who collaborated on a recent article in Clinical Lung Cancer, however, all of that will change in the next 5 to 10 years when doctors and oncologists will have the appropriate tools to tailor treatment to individual patients.
Drs. Linda Garland of the Arizona Cancer Center, Raja Flores of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and Anne Tsao of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, all world-renowned for their mesothelioma expertise, agree that “the global burden of mesothelioma is expected to increase” in the next decade, particularly outside the United States. This statistic highlights the urgency for continued research in the identification of biomarkers, a specific biological trait associated with a disease or health condition, for mesothelioma making way for personalized treatment.
Personalized cancer treatment targeted to a particular patient optimizes the potential for success of the treatment and provides the patient with the assurance that his physician is not taking a “cookie-cutter” approach to cancer therapy. Mesothelioma treatments can differ dramatically across patients and personalized treatment is advised for the multi-modal approach commonly used.
The use of biomarkers in the area of mesothelioma is a relatively new but promising area of genetic research. For example, the prevalence of a biomarker protein identified as microRNA-29c in mesothelioma tissue has been linked to longer patient survival and improved prognosis after surgery, according to an important recent study. These patients may be better candidates for tumor removal surgery, if the biomarker is validated by further research.
In addition, the researchers say there is an opportunity for development of biomarkers allowing for earlier detection of mesothelioma. A reliable method of screening people who have been exposed to asbestos and detecting mesothelioma at an early stage would improve treatment options for patients and improve their quality of life while battling the cancer.
Doctors are still awaiting the development of a break-through drug or therapy that may allow the targeting of mesothelioma tumors, according to the article. In the next five to 10 years, they say there will be promising developments toward a brighter future for mesothelioma patients.