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Does Chemotherapy Cure Pleural Mesothelioma?

Why Doesn’t Chemotherapy Treatment Cure Pleural Mesothelioma?

For reasons that are not entirely understood yet, chemotherapy works differently for nearly every pleural mesothelioma patient. In some cases the difference can be dramatic. Certain drugs can make a major impact on one person’s tumor but have absolutely no effect on the next. To date, the biggest obstacle to treating pleural mesothelioma with chemotherapy alone is either that the amount of tumor present is too large for the chemo to destroy it or that the tumor develops resistance to the chemo. Surgery can assist with the first problem by reducing the tumor remaining to a manageable amount that chemo can handle.

It is the second problem that is so intriguing and holds so much promise. It appears that not every tumor cell uses the same pathways to grow and to spread. Attacking some but not all of the pathways used by the tumor to replicate will reduce only a portion of the tumor burden, allowing the tumor that is left to grow unimpeded. This is the primary reason single chemotherapy protocols don't cure the tumor and seem to stop working after a number of months. Using multimodality chemotherapy treatments seems to be much more effective since it attacks multiple pathways at once, allowing the tumor no room to evade treatment. Once all the pathways have been identified and drugs found that will interfere with them, it may be possible to use chemo alone as a curative treatment.

Advancements in Chemotherapy Treatment

Our current knowledge of the development of cancer has established that each tumor is a reflection of the different genetic makeup of the host individual’s cells. Development is underway testing a patient’s individual pathology to look for markers that are known to be resistant to certain chemotherapy drugs. This would enable the oncologist to select a drug based upon the genetic profile of the patient. This is one of the most promising fields of investigation.

Chemotherapy protocols have changed and continue to change quickly. Please Contact the Mesothelioma Research Foundation for more information on any new and evolving chemotherapy and mesothelioma treatment investigations.