In September, MesotheliomaHelp reported on the clinical trial from the Baylor College of Medicine designed to assess whether a pre-surgical boost to the immune system followed by surgery will help defeat pleural mesothelioma. Now, the researchers at the Baylor Mesothelioma Treatment Center are enrolling patients in another groundbreaking trial with the goal of reducing recurrence of the asbestos-caused cancer.
Co-led by Dr. Shawn Groth, assistant professor of surgery at Baylor and principal investigator of the study, and Dr. David Sugarbaker, renowned mesothelioma expert and director of Baylor’s Mesothelioma Treatment Center and Chief of Thoracic Surgery in the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery, the oncologists are combining pemetrexed and cisplatin in a heated chemotherapy bath directly in the chest cavity of pleural mesothelioma patients when undergoing surgery.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network panel recommends the cisplatin/pemetrexed chemotherapy combination treatment for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Although Baylor oncologists currently uses a hot chemotherapy bath of just cisplatin and have seen increased survival for some patients, they have not tested the heated bath in combination with pemetrexed.
The Phase I trial, “Study of Cytoreductive Surgery and Hyperthermic Intraoperative Chemotherapy With Pemetrexed and Cisplatin for Malignant Pleural Mesotheliomas,” will determine appropriate dosage of a mixture of pemetrexed and cisplatin administered intrathoracically, or directly into the chest cavity, during surgery in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.
The standard treatment protocol for pleural mesothelioma includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. However, surgery cannot remove all of the mesothelioma growth, and chemotherapy treatments are often unsuccessful due to the aggressive cancers ability to build up resistance to the medicines. With this approach, however, the Baylor researchers give the mesothelioma tumors a direct attack of the chemotherapy drugs by bathing the cancer cells with the anti-cancer drugs.
“Even after aggressive treatment with surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation, recurrence is common,” said Dr. Shawn Groth in a Dec. 20 press release. “This study expands on what we already know about surgery and chemotherapy for mesothelioma and combines them in a new way – giving complete standard-of-care chemotherapy directly into the chest where we can potentially maximize its benefits while minimizing its side effects with the goal of reducing recurrence rates and improving survival and quality of life,” said Dr. Groth.
Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer typically affecting the lining of the lungs, is highly aggressive and is resistant to many cancer treatments making it a difficult disease to treat effectively. The prognosis for mesothelioma patients is bleak with the average survival time varying from 4 – 18 months after diagnosis. Approximately 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with the deadly cancer each year.
“This clinical trial is only one of many mesothelioma treatment protocols available at the Mesothelioma Treatment Center and builds on a strong foundation of mesothelioma research at Baylor College of Medicine,” said Dr. David Sugarbaker.