All the study patients survived one year or longer. This success may be a result of doctors carefully designing their treatment approach. This may have involved analyzing the strong and weak points of mesothelioma surgery.
- Strength: Studies show that the more cancer a surgery removes, the longer patients generally live. This may be because there are fewer cells left behind, making it less likely for new tumors to develop.
- Weakness: Surgery alone does not extend mesothelioma survival. This may be because some cells are left behind, making it possible for new tumors to develop from remaining cells.
In the Italian study, doctors turned both factors into strengths. They administered chemo first to shrink tumors. In theory, this cut down on the amount of cancer surgeons needed to remove. With fewer cancer cells to start with, surgeons may have had an easier time getting most or all the tumors out.
After surgery, the HITHOC treatment targeted mesothelioma cells the surgeon was unable to remove. HITHOC puts strong chemo drugs right where mesothelioma cells are found. This may have killed many cells left behind after surgery.
Overall, this series of treatments used thoughtful approaches to improve mesothelioma survival.
What Does This Mean for Future Pleural Mesothelioma Patients?
Several factors make it difficult to predict how this study may affect future patients.
- Recently completed: Patients enrolled in this study between 2017 and 2020. The study doctors and facilities were modern and may reflect what future patients would encounter. This points to the potential for future patients to experience similar care and survival.
- Few study patients: This study enrolled fewer than 25 patients. With so few patients, the study results may differ from real-world experiences on a larger scale.
So it may be too soon to know if future patients will see this degree of treatment success. But this study can offer some helpful reminders. First, doctors are still doing mesothelioma research, working to improve survival and quality of life. Second, sometimes a new way of using a classic treatment can work surprisingly well.