According to a new study, a drug combination has the potential to double the life expectancy of patients with asbestos-related lung cancer called Mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the cells that make up the lining around the outside of the lungs and inside of the ribs or around the abdominal organs. It differs from other types of lung cancers in that it is caused by exposure to asbestos, rather than by smoking.
The condition affects five times more men than women and most commonly occurs in men between 50 and 80 years old. Doctors say this cancer is very difficult to treat. People diagnosed with the disease generally only survive for six to eight months.
Researchers at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom conducted a clinical trial to determine if the anticancer drug combination of pemetrexed and carboplatin was safe in patients with Mesothelioma. Twenty-seven patients were treated with five different doses of the drugs.
The study found that not only was the drug safe, but about one-third of the patients responded to the drug combination. On average, patients who were given the drug combination survived as long as 12 to 14 months. A few cases, patients survived for three years or more. Researchers also report 80 percent of the patients noticed an improvement in symptoms, usually after only 2 treatments.
Doctors call this study an important development in the treatment of Mesothelioma. The clinical trial showed an improvement in survival and symptoms for the first time in patients with this disease. A multinational trial is now underway to study this treatment further.