Recent clinical studies continue to suggest that immunotherapy can improve – and possibly extend – the lives of people with mesothelioma. Two trials in 2019 and 2021 showed statistically significant improvements for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) patients. This was convincing enough that the FDA has approved two combination therapies as first-line treatments for MPM patients:
- The NovoTTF-100L system used in combination with pemetrexed, plus platinum-based chemotherapy
- Nivolumab (Opdivo) and ipilimumab (Yervoy)
The treatment you might receive depend in part on whether you have a mutated gene called BAP1, or a related gene. BAP1 is a gene which, when mutated, predisposes people to get mesothelioma if they are exposed to asbestos or certain other substances.
The two clinical trials that resulted in the new FDA-approved protocols are called STELLAR and CheckMate 743.
The CheckMate 743 trial compared MPM patients who were given chemotherapy to those who were given a combination of Opdivo and Yervoy. The researchers found that chemotherapy and the combination immunotherapy had about the same clinical response rate. In other words, the tumors responded to each type of therapy about equally.
However, the clinical response lasted longer in those patients who were given Opdivo and Yervoy. Ultimately, the patients who took the combination immunotherapy lived about four months longer than those who received chemotherapy.
Talk to your doctor about whether you could benefit from immunotherapy
Mesothelioma is a rare but deadly form of cancer, and there is currently no cure. What we’re seeing in the clinical trials for these new drugs is hope. There may be hope of a few extra precious months with your loved ones. Hope that your symptoms might be lessened with the right kind of treatment, allowing the time you have to be more comfortable.
These new therapies sound incredibly promising, and new science can use them as a stepping-stone for even more progress.
Paying for these treatments may be a challenge. If it is possible to identify how you were exposed to asbestos, you may be able to obtain compensation that could help cover the costs. Minnesotans with mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer can get a free consultation from Sieben Polk P.A.