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Author: David Belsky

Thanksgiving is Different This Year for Mesothelioma Patients

Each year at this time we celebrate Thanksgiving. Since the Pilgrims started this tradition it is a time to share and be grateful for our blessings. As Thanksgiving 2021 rapidly approaches, we reflect on what this year’s holiday means to ourselves and our loved ones and to our collective community.  

As we all know, what makes this year different from last year and previous celebrations of Thanksgiving is the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year, 2020, was pre-vaccination. A lot of people had small celebrations and stayed home. This year with vaccinations available we take a step closer to what normal used to be.

Thanksgiving traditionally involves family gatherings, turkey dinners, and for some travel to relatives for the celebrations. The gatherings are times that families and friends can reconnect.  Although not all Thanksgiving celebrations and memories are as picture perfect as we would like, they are all our own unique families with our different opinions gathering and interacting.

According to a recent survey from Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, the mood that most U.S adults described toward Thanksgiving 2021 was “cautious.” 

There are some indicators that Thanksgiving celebrations are getting back to normal. According to recent reports, travel is returning to pre-Pandemic levels. The same poll says that 63% of Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving with the same number of people as they did before the coronavirus pandemic, with 5% saying there will be more people attending their Thanksgiving this year compared to pre-pandemic times. Once people get to their destinations they may find that the hosts for their celebrations are asking about their vaccination status. Another recent survey tells us that half of all Americans plan to inquire about their potential guests’ vaccination status. Covid 19 negative tests will be required by 46% from unvaccinated friends and families.

As we all adjust to the “new normal,” for our Thanksgiving celebrations we celebrate and give thanks for progress that continues to be made in fighting malignant mesothelioma. All of us can take the lessons of the past year and a half and turn them into something positive. Appreciate each other and our relationships. Be thankful!

No matter how you choose to celebrate, stay safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Pairing Machine Learning with PET Scans Can Help Predict Mesothelioma Outcomes

The EJNMMI Research medical journal recently published an article entitled “FDG PET versus CT radiomics to predict outcome in malignant pleural mesothelioma patients” that outlines a study wherein 72 patients diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) at the University Hospital Zurich underwent pre-treatment FDG PET and CT scans alongside curative treatments. In the study, Swiss researchers discovered that using machine-learning radiomics models in conjunction with PET scans to track tumor progress can help doctors better predict outcomes of malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos and makes up 60 to 70 percent of all cases. MPM occurs when tumors develop in the lining of the lungs and chest cavity (called the pleura).

To obtain imaging that will help them diagnose mesothelioma and prescribe treatment for patients, doctors use both CT scans, which combine several x-ray scans from different angles, and PET scans, which use a radioactive tracing fluid to demonstrate tissue and organ functions.

While they did not have the same results with CT scans, the Swiss research team was able to develop a quantitative model using machine learning to more effectively analyze PET scans and predict the movement of tumors.

Because treating mesothelioma often involves varying approaches and exposes patients to many chemicals, it is critical that doctors are able to determine a course of action for each patient that is most responsive to their individual cancer. Malignant pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that spreads rapidly, so it is imperative that patients begin receiving treatment as quickly as possible.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, reach out today for a free consultation. Our experts can assist you with medical resources as well as options for compensation from those responsible.

New Study Shows LMB-100 Can Be Even More Effective Paired with Keytruda for Mesothelioma Treatment

A new study published by the Science Translational Medicine journal showed that, for a small cohort, LMB-100 could be even more effective when paired with Keytruda for treating patients with mesothelioma. Researchers saw a median survival rate of almost a year, with a handful of clinical trial participants continuing to show progress after more than three years.

Following this success, the National Cancer Institute is currently accepting clinical trial participants for phase 2 of the study.

LMB-100 is an immunotoxin drug designed to help the immune system find and destroy cancer and mesothelioma cells.

Keytruda, an antibody drug used in cancer immunotherapy manufactured by Merck and also known as Pembrolizumab, has been approved by the FDA over the years for several treatments including solid tumor cancers and non-small cell lung cancer.

The study showed that patients taking both LMB-100 and Keytruda (pembrolizumab) could result in more effective treatment.

“In some of the patients, receiving pembrolizumab after LMB-100 resulted in greater efficacy than what would be expected from pembrolizumab alone,” said Raffit Hassan, M.D., Chief of the Thoracic and GI Malignancies Branch at the National Cancer Institute.

Patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma are encouraged to speak with their oncologist or consult with a Mesothelioma Center of Excellence to determine whether Keytruda or other medications can be an effective treatment, or whether they might be a candidate for a clinical trial. We at MesotheliomaHelp.org are always available to assist you.

Keytruda Approved by FDA for Further Potential Treatments of Mesothelioma

Keytruda, an antibody drug used in cancer immunotherapy manufactured by Merck and also known as Pembrolizumab, has been approved by the FDA for treatment of solid tumor cancers. Previously, the drug had only been approved to treat non-small cell lung cancer. This is an important development for certain mesothelioma patients.

In a press release, the FDA said that clinical trials showed an effective response rate for 29 percent of patients with mesothelioma and other applicable tumors that displayed high levels of mutation. While there is still no cure for mesothelioma, of those who participated in the trial, half saw a benefit for an additional year, while the other half demonstrated benefit for an additional two years.

The drug works by targeting the cellular pathway of proteins found on the body’s immune cells and some cancer cells. By blocking this pathway, Keytruda may help the body’s immune system fight cancer cells.

The previous FDA approval in 2015 came after a U.S. clinical trial found Keytruda to be effective in controlling mesothelioma tumors in three-fourths of patients, leading researchers to say the results are “encouraging.”

Like lung cancer, pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that is challenging to treat. Pleural mesothelioma can take decades to display symptoms and can leave patients with life-threatening complications. The asbestos-caused cancer affects the lining of the lungs and often leaves patients with less than 18 months to live after diagnosis.

Patients diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma are encouraged to speak with their oncologist or consult with a Mesothelioma Center of Excellence to determine whether Keytruda can be an effective treatment. We at MesotheliomaHelp.org are always available to assist you.

New Treatment Using Transarterial Chemoperfusion Shows Promise for Mesothelioma Patients

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is an aggressive tumor primarily caused by exposure to asbestos. While there is currently no cure, researchers continue to discover new methods in treating symptoms.
A team at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa has discovered that transarterial chemoperfusion has real potential to extend life expectancy for mesothelioma patients.
How does transarterial chemoperfusion work?
Doctors apply a high dosage of drugs including cisplatin, methotrexate, and gemcitabine directly to lung tissue affected by the disease. This concentrated approach helps to increase the benefits of the drugs but decrease the side effects. The procedure can be performed outpatient and usually lasts an hour, with an additional hour for recovery.
Why is this different from chemotherapy?
Traditional chemotherapy is delivered intravenously, which results in the drugs being spread throughout the body. With transarterial chemoperfusion, radiologists inject a portion of the drugs directly into the arteries and vessels that connect with the pleura. This allows for a more targeted approach to treating malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Is transarterial chemoperfusion effective?
Even with the many advances scientists have found in treating mesothelioma, it is likely only a small percentage of patients will benefit from this treatment and it requires an early diagnosis. The percentage of patients in the trial that underwent transarterial chemoperfusion and whose malignant pleural mesothelioma shrank or remained stable was 70.3 percent. They had a median overall survival rate of 8.5 months from the time of treatment.
What should I do next?
If you are experiencing symptoms of mesothelioma, we urge you to contact your medical provider or a Mesothelioma Center of Excellence to be evaluated and diagnosed. Those who have been diagnosed should reach out for assistance, as you and your family may be entitled to compensation from those responsible for the exposure to asbestos.
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