Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy Combo May Improve Mesothelioma Survival

a woman lies in a hospital bed while receiving cancer treatment

When used together, chemotherapy and immunotherapy may hold promise for mesothelioma patients. Researchers found that this combination could help patients live up to eight months longer than if they only received chemotherapy.

Clinical Trial Results Showed Mesothelioma Patients Lived Longer

A new clinical trial combined chemotherapy and immunotherapy to treat mesothelioma. The results of this trial have been promising.

Did You Know?

The overall patient survival in this clinical trial was 20.4 months. The average survival time is just 12 months with chemotherapy alone.

The results were first reported by Dr. Patrick Forde of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center as part of the American Society for Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting in late May 2020.

Notably, none of the patients in the trial could have their cancer surgically removed. This is important as surgery has typically been how mesothelioma patients improved their lifespan.

According to a report about the study from Johns Hopkins University: “This is the first study to show survival times exceeding 20 months for patients with inoperable mesothelioma.”

If this treatment combination shows success in more studies, it could help thousands of people with mesothelioma live longer.

Breakdown of This Mesothelioma Clinical Trial

This clinical trial combined an immunotherapy drug (durvalumab) and two chemotherapy drugs (cisplatin and pemetrexed). Every patient in the clinical trial had pleural mesothelioma, which develops in the lining of the lungs.

Chemotherapy is the use of drug treatments to kill cancerous cells. Cisplatin and pemetrexed are the most commonly used chemotherapy drugs to treat mesothelioma.

Immunotherapy drugs retrain the patient’s immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells.

The clinical trial treated 55 patients across 15 U.S. cancer centers with the new drug combination.

Researchers found that over 70% of patients were still alive a year after receiving the chemotherapy and immunotherapy combination.

Further, patients did not experience any unexpected side effects, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Previous Mesothelioma Clinical Trials Found Similar Results

This 2020 study was not the first to test a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy for cancer.

The 2018 DREAM trial based out of Australia also reported positive results when testing a similar combination of drugs. 54 patients received durvalumab with cisplatin and pemetrexed in this trial.

The median progression-free survival (PFS) in these patients was nearly 7 months. Progression-free survival is the amount of time that a patient lives with the disease without it getting worse.

More Combination Trials on the Horizon For Mesothelioma Patients

Both the 2018 and 2020 trials have shown that long-term survival may be possible with immunotherapy and chemotherapy. Due to this, more patients will soon be able to access this combination through clinical trials.

Clinical trials progress in phases (from 0 to 4) and each phase accepts more patients. The May 2020 findings came from a phase 2 clinical trial.

Dr. Forde said: “Because of the promising results, we are in the process of starting a phase 3 study to confirm the benefit of this approach.”

The phase 3 trial has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is currently scheduled to begin later in 2020. The new study will combine with the DREAM trial and recruit patients from both the U.S. and Australia.

Contact us to see if you can join a clinical trial after a mesothelioma diagnosis. While you may not qualify to join this upcoming trial specifically, there may be other ones you can join. Our team can also answer other questions you may have about mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Support Team
Stephanie KiddWritten by:

Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie Kidd grew up in a family of civil servants, blue-collar workers, and medical caregivers. Upon graduating Summa Cum Laude from Stetson University, she began her career specializing in worker safety regulations and communications. Now, a proud member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network, Stephanie serves as a voice for mesothelioma victims and their families.

View 4 Sources
  1. The Meso Foundation. (2020, June 03). Combination immunotherapy/chemotherapy study shows promise at ASCO 2020. Retrieved June 19, 2020, from https://www.curemeso.org/2020/05/28/immunotherapy-study-showing-promise-to-be-reported-on-at-asco-2020-tomorrow/
  2. The Meso Foundation. (2019, May 20). Updates in immunotherapy for mesothelioma. Retrieved June 19, 2020, from https://www.curemeso.org/2018/09/24/updates-in-immunotherapy-for-mesothelioma/
  3. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. (2020, June 11). Chemotherapy/immunotherapy combo shows promise for first-line treatment of mesothelioma. Retrieved June 19, 2020, from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-06-chemotherapyimmunotherapy-combo-first-line-treatment-mesothelioma.html
  4. Nowak, A., Kok, P., Lesterhuis, W., Et al.https://www.jto.org/article/S1556-0864(18)31234-6/fulltext. (2018, October 1). OA08.02 DREAM - A Phase 2 Trial of Durvalumab with First Line Chemotherapy in Mesothelioma: Final Result. Retrieved June 21, 2020.