From the blog

Accelerated Hypofractionated Radiotherapy for Mesothelioma

Published: March 10, 2023

A recent study from Italy found that accelerated hypofractionated radiotherapy could be an effective treatment for mesothelioma. This is good news for people suffering from the rare and aggressive cancer. The patients in the study had higher chances of living longer while also having a lower risk of the disease coming back. Mesothelioma is a hard cancer to treat. The best treatment currently is a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. More treatments are needed to prolong the lives of people suffering from mesothelioma and to improve their quality of life.

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the lining of multiple areas of the body including the lungs, abdomen, heart, and testicles. It is primarily diagnosed in people exposed to asbestos, a fibrous mineral used for its heat and fire resistant properties. Many people including steel workers, construction workers, military members, pipe fitters, mechanics, etc. were exposed to asbestos, even when employers knew asbestos was dangerous. Once asbestos becomes lodged in human tissue, the body cannot break it down or remove it, so it stays in the body for years, leading to DNA changes in cells, which then leads to cancer.

The type of radiation being studied is accelerated hypofractionated radiotherapy. It is a form of radiation, so it involves high energy beams to kill cancer cells. It is known as “accelerated” because it is given within a shorter time frame compared to other radiation treatments. Hypofractionated refers to the level of dosage people receive during treatment. People with this treatment receive larger dosages of radiation in each session. There were 20 patients with pleural mesothelioma in the study who were treated with accelerated hypofractionated radiotherapy. The goal of the study was to find out if tumors shrank in size when given treatment. The other goal was to see how tolerable the treatment was and to see if there were any side effects related to treatment.

Patients in the study received chemotherapy before the accelerated hypofractionated radiotherapy. The radiation portion of the treatment was given over the course of five days. No major side effects were observed in patients receiving treatment. There were patients with fatigue, chest pain, and shortness of breath though. The one-year survival rate was 85 percent, which means 85 percent of patients in the study were still alive after one year. The three-year survival rate was almost 50 percent. Researchers of the study believe that there is a place in mesothelioma treatment for accelerated hypofractionated radiotherapy and that more studies need to be done to determine how effective the treatment is and to see if the treatment is tolerable in a wider range of patients.

Elisabetta Parisi et al., “Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: Preliminary Toxicity Results of Adjuvant Radiotherapy Hypofractionation in a Prospective Trial (MESO-RT)” Cancers (February 2023). [Link]
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