New Study Challenges Heated Chemotherapy for Mesothelioma

Experts are now saying that heated chemotherapy after mesothelioma surgery may not be as beneficial as originally hoped.

A study on heated chemotherapy, also known as hyperthermic chemotherapy perfusion, was conducted by thoracic surgery researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine shows that heat has little effect on most mesothelioma cells. The researchers studied three mesothelioma cell lines, lung cancer cells, hamster-derived ovarian cells, and normal lung cells.

Researchers first documented the growth rate of each type of cell in a laboratory environment. They then exposed the cells to 37, 42, and 45 degrees centigrade for 20, 40, or 60 minutes. They found that some cell types are more sensitive to heat than others. Ovarian cells showed only a 1.5% survival rate when exposed to the highest heat for the longest time. Lung cancer cells, however, did not respond at all to the lower temperatures. 35% of mesothelioma cells were destroyed at the highest heat and longest duration.

After heat exposure, the researchers exposed each type of cell to the most common chemotherapy drugs used for mesothelioma: cisplatin, gemcitabine, and pemetrexed, both with and without heat exposure. There was a slight increase in destruction of mesothelioma cells when heat was used, but the effects were so small that researchers concluded that “most of the reduction was attributable to chemotherapy and not hyperthermia.”

Based on study results, the researchers concluded that the widespread popularity of heated chemotherapy may be unwarranted. “The use of hyperthermia alone or with chemotherapy produces at best only a modest effect and does not necessarily support its current clinical use.”

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