As research continues to find viable treatment options for the aggressive cancer Mesothelioma, all avenues are being explored. Mesothelioma is fast to metastasize and move to different areas of the body, and the prognosis for this form of cancer is generally not good. Asbestos exposure is believed to be the primary cause of Mesothelioma. This aggressive cancer starts out in the mesothelium, which is the lining that covers and surrounds most of the organs in the body. Mesothelioma is a cancerous tumor or tumors that start in this lining. Most commonly, it starts in the lining around the lungs, intestines, or even the heart.
Depending on the stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis, first line treatment is often times chemotherapy. Recent research performed and presented by a team of Australian Researchers at the European Lung Cancer Conference suggests that high dose radiation may show some promise in treating stage 3 and stage 4 Mesothelioma when advanced targeting technology is used during administration.
Over the past several years, radiation has not been used to treat Mesothelioma in most cases because of the odd shapes of the tumors and the fact that the disease spreads so quickly. The amount of radiation necessary to treat malignant Mesothelioma would be considered toxic to healthy tissue in most cases.
The research presented by Dr. Fiegen and his team at this conference suggests that Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT) and 3D conformal techniques could very well help doctors overcome these obstacles when treating Mesothelioma patients.
In this particular referenced study, 44 patients diagnosed with stage 3 or stage 4 Mesothelioma were given 3d conformal or IMRT over a 6-week period of time. The median survival rate for the participants was 22 months, which is significant considering that the survival rate for stage 3 and stage 4 Mesothelioma patients is generally 12 to 18 months from the time of diagnosis. Even more significant is the fact that 15 out of 44 patients are still alive, seven years after the study and high dose radiation took place. It is also important to note that none of the patients who participated in the study died because of radiation toxicity.
Many physicians continue to debate whether or not this technique is safe due to the increased likelihood of radiation toxicity. Other researchers and scientists question the interaction that this type of radiation might have with other, more common, first line treatments, such as chemotherapy.
Even with the questions that are being raised about the potential risks of this type of radiation, researchers believe that it is definitely worth studying more to determine whether or not this is an effective and viable treatment option for Mesothelioma patients.