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Mesothelioma Patients May Benefit from Retreatment of Chemotherapy

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a unique, rare asbestos-related pulmonary cancer that is highly aggressive and is resistant to many standard cancer treatments.  It can be treated with varying degrees of success, however, through the use of surgical procedures, chemotherapy and radiation.  The current chemotherapy standard of care for the treatment of pleural mesothelioma is combination therapy utilizing pemetrexed and cisplatin.

To date, pemetrexed (Alimta) is the only chemotherapy drug that has been approved for use in combination with cisplatin for the treatment of patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.  Chemotherapy is administered to patients after surgery to prevent the disease from progressing, or as the primary treatment to shrink the tumor.  Alimta, distributed by Eli Lilly and Company, received a priority review from the FDA in 2004 and is also designated as an orphan drug.  It is the first, and only, drug approved for mesothelioma treatment.

Often, a second round of chemotherapy is ordered when the tumor begins to grow after the patient responded to the first line of treatment.  In the case of mesothelioma, there is not a standard of care for this second round.  Researchers in Italy now believe that a second round, and even higher rounds, of the same Alimta-based therapy will be beneficial for mesothelioma patients.

The researchers tested the effectiveness of the treatment on 31 mesothelioma patients that were three months out from completing their first round of Alimta/cisplatin treatment.  15 of the patients received Alimta only, while the other 16 received the pair of drugs.  The study resulted in 48% of the patients receiving the combination therapy having a partial response to the drug, meaning their tumor shrunk in size, or the disease stabilized and did not grow further.

The researchers concluded that re-treatment with pemetrexed-based chemotherapy “should be considered as second-line therapy in malignant pleural mesothelioma patients.”  They added that further evaluation of the treatment should be conducted.

Source:  “Retreatment with pemetrexed-based chemotherapy in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma,” in ScienceDirect.com.

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Nancy Meredith is a blog and web content writer with more than 20 years of professional experience in the Information Technology industry. She has been writing about Mesothelioma for 4 years. Follow Nancy on Google+

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