From the blog

The immunotherapy Drug Bevacizumab Can Improve Survival in Mesothelioma Patients

Published: February 18, 2022

An immune system boosting therapy could potentially be used to treat mesothelioma. For a long period of time, chemotherapy drugs have been the standard drug to fight mesothelioma, but researchers believe bevacizumab could change this and be used alongside standard mesothelioma treatments. Chemotherapy is popular with doctors, but chemotherapy drugs are cytotoxic, which means they are deadly to cells. They kill healthy and cancerous cells, so they can be harsh on the body. The drugs can help kill cancer cells, but their killing of healthy cells limits their usefulness as a cancer treatment.

Other treatments like immunotherapy are great alternatives to chemotherapy. They help the person’s immune system fight cancer cells. The immune system can be an essential part of fighting cancer and if certain therapies utilize the immune system, they can kill cancer cells without harming the rest of the body. A transition from chemotherapy drugs to less harmful therapies like immunotherapy show that there is hope for people with mesothelioma. They can be given a fighting chance to live better and longer lives. With more immune based treatments being tested and utilized for mesothelioma, more mesothelioma sufferers could benefit from these therapies.

First line combination treatments including immune-based and cell-based treatments can be effective for mesothelioma. The combination of ipilimumab and nivolumab were studied to determine the first line efficacy of both drugs together. Immunotherapy was first studied to determine its effectiveness in mesothelioma in 2017. Ten mg/kg pembrolizumab was given to patients every two weeks until disease progression, intolerable toxicity, or withdrawal from the study occurred. There was a median survival of 18 months. The longest that someone was treated was 24 months of treatment.

There have been many new treatments for mesothelioma that have greatly improved survival. Bevacizumab is just one example of an effective new treatment for the hard-to-treat cancer. New treatments utilizing both chemotherapy and immunotherapy need to be studied further to increase the chance of survival for aggressive, hard to treat cancers like mesothelioma. The combination could also possibly reduce the progression of these cancers, slowing their spread around the body, giving people a chance to live longer lives. The use of drugs like immune checkpoint inhibitors and other immunotherapy drugs could potentially reduce the need for regular cytotoxic chemotherapy drugs in the future, improving patient outlook and quality of life.

Shantanu Banerji et al., “The Role of Immunotherapy in the Treatment of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma” Current Oncology (November 8, 2021). [Link]
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