Comparison of Cisplatin and Carboplatin Offers Hope for Mesothelioma Patients

The scientific journal Lung Cancer has recently published the result of an investigation into the possible benefits of the chemotherapy combination carboplatin and pemetrexed (Alimta) on mesothelioma patients. This combination may prove to be a less toxic and more effective combination therapy than cisplatin and pemetrexed, which is currently the established combination of chemotherapy drugs for treating mesothelioma.

Chemotherapy with cisplatin and pemetrexed is generally regarded as the most effective combination that is in general use to date; however, these two drugs are particularly toxic to the body, and are generally accompanied by a number of side effects. The authors of the study decided to substitute carboplatin for the cisplatin in this combination. Their methodology involved treating 49 mesothelioma patients with the new pair of drugs, then comparing the results to the established data on the cisplatin-pemetrexed pairing.

The majority of patients reported a benefit after two cycles of chemotherapy, and also reported that toxicity was relatively low. The median survival in the study was 14 months, slighter greater than the median survival of those who took cisplatin and pemetrexed, which is 12.1 months.

Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a disease caused by contact with the insulating mineral material asbestos. The fibers which make up the asbestos can disintegrate and be inhaled, then embed themselves in the body’s soft tissues. Mesothelioma may incubate within the body for 20 to 50 years, and is usually advanced by the time it is diagnosed. For this reason, it’s not usually operable. It has also proven difficult to treat with chemotherapy and radiation. Most patients have a multimodality treatment plan, utlizing several forms of therapy. The discovery of carboplatin as a viable substitute for cisplatin when paired with pemetrexed brings new hope for extended survival time and improved quality of life for patients with mesothelioma.