Pre-Chemo Drug Combo May Increase Mesothelioma Survival Rate

A study recently published by Italian researchers in Anticancer Research found that one combination of neoadjuvant chemotherapy drugs may give patients a longer mesothelioma life expectancy than another.

Usually administered with a platinum-based drug, Alimta (antimetabolite pemetrexed) can be used before surgery (newadjuvant) with the goal of shrinking a tumor to improve surgery success, or after surgery (adjuvant) to kill remaining cancer cells. Alimta was the first chemotherapy drug approved specifically for mesothelioma treatment.

In the study conducted in Padua, Italy, researchers compared two combinations of Alimta and platinum drugs: pemetrexed/cisplatin and pemetrexed/carboplatin. 51 mesothelioma patients who participated in the study were given three cycles of one of the drug combinations. This treatment was followed by surgery and radiation therapy. Researchers aimed to compare the effectiveness and tolerability of each combination as a pre-surgery regimen.

Overall, the two drug combinations had very similar results. However, the patients given the carboplatin combination had a slightly better outcome than those given the cisplatin combination. In conclusion, the researchers stated, “We observed higher incidence of grade 3 anemia, cumulative grade 2-3 asthenia, and worsening performance in the (cisplatin combination) group.”

In specific, the researchers found that:

  • 4% of the carboplatin combination patients demonstrated a complete response, while none of the 24 cisplatin patients did.
  • 18% of the carboplatin group showed a partial response. 17% of the cisplatin group showed a partial response.
  • Disease progression with the carboplatin group was 74%, versus 79% in the cisplatin group.
  • Doctors were able to remove an average of 81% of mesothelioma cells in carboplatin patients, and only 79% in cisplatin patients.

Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer that is caused by asbestos exposure, and for which there is currently no cure. In conducting studies such as the Italian study noted in this article, doctors hope to prolong life expectancy and enhance quality of life in mesothelioma patients.

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