Combination Therapy for Peritoneal Mesothelioma Looks Promising

A study into treatments for the rare cancer known as diffuse malignant peritoneal mesothelioma (DMPM) has discovered that a possible combination therapy may be effective.

Recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the combination studied involved cytoreductive surgery (surgery to remove as much of the cancerous tumor as possible) followed by hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), which is a form of chemotherapy in which the drug is heated and injected directly into the peritoneal cavity, or abdomen.

This approach is usually more effective than traditional IV therapy because it can reach more places within the abdomen, and can kill cancer cells that remain after surgery—cells that otherwise might be able to form new cancerous tumors. The study was conducted at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Australia, by T.D. Yan and colleagues. Over four hundred peritoneal mesothelioma patients were investigated, particularly with regard to overall survival rates. The overall median survival was 53 months. Three- and five-year survival rates, respectively, were 60 percent and 47 percent.

Peritoneal mesothelioma is one of the rarer forms of mesothelioma, a cancer which is generally regarded as being causally linked to asbestos exposure. The inhalation or ingestion of asbestos particles leads to the formation of a diffuse tumor on the membranous lining of the stomach and inner lining of the abdominal cavity, called the mesothelium.

Left untreated, the survival rate for this cancer is particularly grim, with only one-third of patients still alive one year after diagnosis. Mesothelioma has been found to respond best to a multi-modality therapy, in which one or more treatments are combined in order to harness their effectiveness while also minimizing their side effects. Unfortunately, many patients who are diagnosed with this cancer are not strong enough to undergo surgery, intense chemotherapy or radiation.

Many patients pursue alternative therapies, such as a strict nutritional regimen, acupuncture or massage therapy, in order to alleviate either symptoms of the disease or side effects of the treatments.