A multicenter US trial of a chemotherapy regime using a combination of Alimta® (pemetrexed) and Gemzar® (gemcitabine) has reported that the regime showed active results in patients suffering from peritoneal mesothelioma . was active in patients with peritoneal mesothelioma . The study results were reported in the July 20, 2008 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Most cases of mesothelioma are known as “pleural” mesothelioma because they involve the mesothelial lining around the lungs. Peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the mesothelium around the abdominal cavity, is significantly less common, accounting for about one case in five. Peritoneal mesothelioma has a shorter latency time, and generally appears between 20 and 30 years after exposure to the asbestos which triggers the mesothelioma. Because peritoneal mesothelioma is relatively rare, there are many fewer trials of drug treatment options for the condition. The common palliative treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma involves a surgical removal of tumor masses followed by chemotherapy. The lack of research into peritoneal mesothelioma means that treatment regimes are generally designed based on the research that has been done for pleural mesothelioma .
The current trial treated 20 patients between 2002 and 2004, giving them a combination of Alimta and Gemzar every three weeks, along with vitamin and nutritional supplements. The overall response rate to the treatment was 15%, the disease control rate was 50%, the median time to progression of the mesothelioma was 10.4 months, the median survival time was 26.8 months, and the toxicity level of the regimen in the patients was assessed as being tolerable. The study authors concluded that this chemotherapy combination was an active regimen that would be a viable option to the standard palliative treatment.