Improving Mesothelioma Survival Rates: Research and Hope
Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that develops in the protective lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. It is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos, a mineral that was commonly used in construction materials until the 1970s. Despite advances in treatment, mesothelioma still has a poor prognosis, with a five-year survival rate of only 10%. However, researchers and advocates are working tirelessly to improve survival rates and find new treatment options for those who are affected by this devastating disease.
Current Treatment Options
The treatment options for mesothelioma depend on several factors, including the stage of the cancer, the location of the tumor, and the overall health of the patient. The most common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, often used in combination to provide the best possible outcome.
Surgery is often the first line of defense for mesothelioma patients, and several options are available depending on the location and extent of the tumor. One type of surgery, called extrapleural pneumonectomy, involves removing the affected lung, the lining of the chest wall, and the diaphragm. Another type, called pleurectomy with decortication, involves removing the lining of the lung and chest wall, but sparing the lung itself.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are also commonly used to treat mesothelioma. Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells, while radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to destroy the tumor. Both of these treatments can be administered before or after surgery, depending on the patient's needs.
New Research and Clinical Trials
Despite these treatment options, mesothelioma still has a low survival rate, with most patients surviving less than two years after diagnosis. As a result, researchers are constantly exploring new treatment options and therapies to improve outcomes for mesothelioma patients.
One promising area of research is immunotherapy, which involves using the body's own immune system to fight cancer. Several immunotherapy drugs have been tested in clinical trials for mesothelioma, including pembrolizumab and nivolumab, which have shown promising results in improving overall survival rates.
Another area of research is gene therapy, which involves modifying a patient's genetic material to better target and kill cancer cells. Several gene therapy treatments have been tested in clinical trials for mesothelioma, including a treatment called TR002, which has shown promise in early trials and is currently being tested in a phase III trial.
Support and Advocacy
In addition to research and clinical trials, mesothelioma patients and their families also need support and advocacy to help them navigate the often-complicated landscape of treatment and care. Several organizations and support groups offer resources, education, and advocacy for patients and their families, including the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.
These groups work to raise awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure, advocate for stronger regulations to protect workers and the public from exposure, and provide support and resources for those affected by mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a devastating disease that affects thousands of people each year. While survival rates are still low, researchers and advocates are working tirelessly to find new treatments and improve outcomes for mesothelioma patients. Through ongoing research, clinical trials, and support and advocacy, we can continue to make progress in the fight against mesothelioma and offer hope to those who are affected by this devastating disease.