Over the years we have had the privilege of seeing people diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in different stages of their journey. Malignant mesothelioma is a rare cancer that is difficult to diagnose and to treat. Treatment options are limited and long term quality survival is the goal with ultimately leading to a cure. Always recommended has been getting treatment at a Mesothelioma Center of Excellence and participating in clinical trials.
Treatment and research has been ongoing, but for most, painfully slow with limited successes.
The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the use of two immunotherapy drugs for the treatment of inoperable malignant pleural mesothelioma. The drugs, Opdivo (Nivolumab) and Yervoy (Ipillmumbab), were approved by the FDA in less than six weeks. The six weeks timeline was following the submission of a new Biological License Application under the FDA’s real time Oncology Review process.
These successes do not come overnight. They come in increments. They are like building blocks with this success building on the next. Not many among us are research scientists or are gifted with the knowledge and drive to conduct a clinical trial when it succeeds, but more importantly when it doesn’t. To continue with the next idea and not give up takes committed leaders and a very supportive community.
The mesothelioma community worldwide is small. For the successful clinical trial that led to the FDA approval in record time of this new treatment option, recruitment was started in September of 2016. There were 109 study locations worldwide, enrolling 606 patients. This is a collaborative effort that yielded an important treatment option for people and families that are dealing with this largely preventable rare cancer.
To participate in a clinical trial is also a courageous thing to do. For many, the results may not come in time to help them or improve their quality of life, but will help others in the future.
These numbers do not tell the story of the lives this research will affect. We have the privilege of being in a position to see the results and to put faces to the treatment options that are now being offered. The results are all scientifically quantitated and verified through the scientific process.
As we continue to see people and families affected by malignant pleural mesothelioma, we will continue to put faces and stories to their particular journey. We also remember the many brave people that entered into these clinical trials and are not able to see the success in which they had a vital part in. With this new option hopefully patients and their families will be able to enjoy quality time while further research can continue toward the cure.