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Nurse's Corner Articles: Page 1 of 11

Commitment is a Key Ingredient for Mesothelioma Treatment

Having been involved with the mesothelioma community for many years, one of the defining qualities of this community is the commitment of the team. The team the patients and their families meet and the ones they never meet. Researchers have committed themselves and their careers to finding treatments for this highly complex disease for decades.

What makes a researcher continue to dedicate themselves to this challenge? Progress comes slowly and not without setbacks. Often one of the answers we receive is the stories of the patients and their families. 

The passion that clinicians have for the patients affected by this disease does not waiver. Over the decades, through success and failures, they continue to work tirelessly toward a cure.

Teamwork, collaboration, and sharing have evolved over the years. Research has brought the community closer and benefitted patients. Because the patients are involved in the mesothelioma community, their passion feeds the researchers.

When talking with a researcher, they were excited about how they were taking a study that was done, looking at it with a different approach, and now we’re adding to it. This researcher was excited about the opportunity. A young researcher worked for a couple of years in the lab. Their enthusiasm was palpable.

Another long-term mesothelioma expert spoke passionately about the progress made in their career and how the treatment has been refined. The options for treatment had become specialized. Options that when they started their careers were ideas for Clinical Trials have now been proven and are a regular part of treatment options.

None of this has been easy. The road to progress in treatments of malignant mesothelioma has been long. The scientific process is strict, with results needing to be replicated independently. The science is the steam behind the engine, but the engine is the person.

Recently, while visiting a patient staying in a local hotel, he told me his weekend schedule. I was taken back. He had reconstructive surgery, where his mesothelioma returned. This was not going to interrupt the list of things he wanted to do for him. He was going to an NBA game, and the following day, he would cross the state line to check out a casino. When I told the surgeon on Monday, he could not have been more elated. This kind of approach is why the mesothelioma team does what it does. They want people to live their lives the way they choose to.

Thank you for the years of dedication and perseverance to the many scientists behind the scenes working towards a cure for malignant mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Patient on Importance of Staying Positive During Treatment

Once a person is diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and decides on a treatment plan, the anticipation for treatment to begin – and the reality of when it does begin – can be a challenging time. 

Recently while talking with a patient, he offered his perspective on the difference between day 1 and day 2 of beginning treatment. For him, when treatment was going to be initiated, he found his mind in a unique spot. As he took in the new faces, new information, and new surroundings, new hope was born. The anticipation of the day  was finally reality, and his body and mind were going down separate paths. This experience – whether it be chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy or surgery – is new, a road never traveled. Although education was provided prior to his intervention it is overwhelming to say the least. This first day is like no other day of your journey. 

For this patient, the second time he had treatment it was no longer a new experience. For him, the reality of what he was going through was met with dread and fear.  The anticipation of treatment and hope was met with growing uneasiness. Familiar faces are not new and side effects are expected and can produce anxiety.  How does one deal with these days ahead, days that once provided hope and now are filled with anxiety and fear?

Wrapping your mind around the positive and trying to focus on the ultimate goal is key. These experiences are trying times and everyone masters these situations differently. Many choose to surround themselves with their most positive support team, others surround themselves with thoughts of a brighter future. Whatever way you choose is yours, and entirely up to you.

Prior to day 2 of your journey, try to  focus on the part of treatment that you found positive. Experiences like treating mesothelioma bring many new possibilities. A relationship of any kind may be positive, or a certain person may have provided a warm smile which may be all you need at that very moment. 

Perhaps writing in a journal as you travel this new path will bring peace to help when you reflect back on some of your symptoms and how they are improving. When people are facing their biggest adversities, sometimes there are strong positive ideas, relationships, or experiences that may change your perspective.

Receiving a diagnosis of mesothelioma is not like any other challenges that you may have faced. As we continue to see our waiting rooms filled with new faces, we are aware of the struggles that you are facing and are here for you. If there is something that you need or have questions about, please ask. The Mesothelioma Centers of Excellence are striving for a brighter future for all who have been affected by this disease one patient at a time.

First New Drug Treatment for Mesothelioma Approved by FDA in Over 16 Years

For the first time in 16 years, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has approved a new drug combination specifically for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. The two drugs, which are to be used together when surgery is not an option, are Opdivo (nivolumab) and Yervoy (ipilimumab).

About 20,000 Americans are diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma each year according to the FDA – the vast majority of which have tumors at diagnosis that cannot be removed by surgery. The devastating cancer is caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers, often found in manufacturing, construction, mining, military, transportation and other common settings.

When combined, Opdivo and Yervoy improve T-cell function to reduce growth of the patient’s tumor.

“In 2004, FDA approved pemetrexed in combination with cisplatin for this indication, and now patients have an important, additional treatment option after more than a decade with only one FDA-approved drug regimen,” said Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence.

The drug therapy was approved after a clinical trial involving over 600 participants with unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma that had yet to be treated. Patients received doses of both Opdivo and Yervoy every few weeks for up to two years before results were measured.

“Approval of nivolumab plus ipilimumab provides a new treatment that has demonstrated an improvement in overall survival for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma,” said Dr. Pazdur.

Those who took the new combination survived an average of 18.1 months from diagnosis, compared to 14.1 months for those who received standard chemotherapy.

It can be difficult to navigate the many treatment and legal options presented to mesothelioma patients after they are diagnosed. The experts at the Mesothelioma Help Organization are here to help you make sense of it – reach out today.

New Dual-Immunotherapy Regimen Proves Effective for Mesothelioma Patients in Phase 3 Clinical Trial

Dr. Paul Baas of the Netherlands Cancer Institute and the University of Leiden in Amsterdam recently presented on the CheckMate 743 study at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer World Conference. The randomized phase III Checkmate 743 clinical trial prescribed mesothelioma patients who were not candidates for surgery with a combination of first-line nivolumab and ipilimumab.

The promising results yielded a four-month improvement in median overall survival for patients who received the new dual-immunotherapy regimen as compared with those who had received platinum-based chemotherapy, the current double-chemotherapy standard of care for mesothelioma.

“This is the first positive randomized trial of dual immunotherapy in first-line treatment of patients with unresectable MPM,” Dr. Bass noted. “And therefore nivolumab plus ipilimumab should be considered as a new standard of care.”

The patients featured in the phase III trial were randomly assigned treatment plans consisting of either a maximum of two years of nivolumab and ipilimumab, or six cycles of pemetrexed alongside cisplatin or carboplatin.

Results revealed that the treatment plan consisting of nivolumab and ipilimumab yielded comparable efficacy outcomes to chemotherapy for progression-free survival and objective response rate, but was significantly more successful than chemotherapy when it came to the duration of response (DOR). The DOR for the dual-immunotherapy treatment reached 11.0 months whereas the DOR for chemotherapy reached only 6.7 months.

“In the ipi/nivo survival curve, going out to 36 months, we see a plateau at about 30%,… suggesting, as we’ve seen with other trials of immunotherapy, there is a degree of durability that is way beyond what we’ve seen previously with chemotherapy. And this, indeed, may have been driven by maintenance nivolumab,” explained Dr. Dean Fennell of the Cancer Research UK Centre Leicester, University of Leicester and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

Our medical experts can help you make sense of your treatment options and how to move forward. Reach out today.

Clinical Trial of Imfinzi (Durvalumab) in Conjunction with Chemotherapy Yields Significantly Longer Survival Time for Patients Diagnosed with Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

Immuno-Oncology News recently published results of a Phase 2 clinical trial of the immuno-checkpoint inhibitor Imfinzi (durvalumab) for patients diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma

The PrECOG cancer research group tested the effects of pairing Imfinzi, an AstraZeneca drug that blocks the activity of the PD-1 receptor in immune T-cells, with standard chemotherapy on a group of 55 individuals who had been recently diagnosed with inoperable malignant pleural mesothelioma. The PD-1/PD-L1 pathway affects inflammation, which causes pleural mesothelioma to develop at a faster rate.

The trial revealed that patients who took Imfinzi in addition to running out courses of standard chemotherapy (pemetrexed with cisplatin or carboplatin) survived for an average of 20.4 months, whereas patients who were given only standard chemotherapy lived for an average of 12.1 months. 81.8 percent of participants were male, their median age was 68, and three-quarters of them had been diagnosed with the epithelioid cancer subtype of malignant pleural mesothelioma. 

“[Imfinzi] plus standard chemotherapy delivered a promising median overall survival rate for patients with previously untreated, inoperable malignant pleural mesothelioma,” affirmed Dr. Patrick Forde, director of the Kimmel Center’s thoracic cancer clinical research program, in a news release from the American Society of Clinical Oncology

AstraZeneca, PrECOG, and the University of Sydney have plans to enroll participants who have been diagnosed with previously untreated, inoperable malignant pleural mesothelioma in a Phase 3 trial in Australia and the United States in September. More details about the upcoming clinical trial can be found here.

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.

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