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Louisville Personal Injury Blog

Chemotherapy ineffective on some types of metastatic mesothelioma

Louisville residents may be familiar with mesothelioma, a cancer caused usually by exposure to asbestos. The most common type is pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs. This type can be divided into three subtypes. Normally, chemotherapy is used to treat pleural mesothelioma, but new research finds some of these subtypes do not respond so well to the treatment.

The research was conducted at some of the top research centers in the nation, including MD Anderson Cancer Center, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale. Researchers analyzed 4,655 pleural mesothelioma patients, 41 percent of whom had metastatic mesothelioma (in other words, the cancer had spread to other areas of the body). About half of these patients received chemotherapy while the others received palliative care.

CAR T-cell therapy may prove effective in treating mesothelioma

Louisville residents may want to know about a new form of immunotherapy that has been shown to be effective in treating malignant pleural mesothelioma. CAR T-cell therapy involves a laboratory reprogramming of a patient's T cells, a certain type of white blood cell, so that they attack a surface protein in the cancer called mesothelin.

A phase I clinical trial involving genetically engineered T cells in pleural mesothelioma patients had begun in 2015. The primary investigator of these trials, a thoracic surgeon with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, presented his results at the American Association for Cancer Research in March 2019. It appears that the therapy could significantly extend mesothelioma survival.

Artificial intelligence may help mesothelioma patients

Mesothelioma is difficult for doctors to diagnose in its early stages. Therefore, patients in Kentucky and elsewhere may have a harder time getting the care that they need to overcome the condition. However, medical professionals are using machine learning that may be able to help them spot the condition sooner. In fact, some believe that the data the machines provide may make it possible to diagnose mesothelioma without their help.

Lung side and platelet count were two factors that were deemed to be most indicative of mesothelioma. This was determined by using a variety of programs to analyze 300 patients from Turkey who were exposed to asbestos. The fact that there were specific symptoms to look for encouraged scientists who say that doctors may make faster diagnoses without access to artificial intelligence. Now that medical professionals have a better understanding of mesothelioma symptoms, it could lead to more effective treatment options for patients.

New cancer treatment shows promise for mesothelioma patients

Patients who suffer from mesothelioma in Louisville and across the country may soon have access to a promising new treatment. Every year, approximately 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma. When found early, mesothelioma has a 41 percent two-year survival rate. When found in a later stage when a solid mass has formed, the survival rate drops to 17 percent.

The new treatment targets these late-stage cases. The treatment, which was presented at the annual American Association for Cancer Research conference, specifically targets the mesothelin protein that coats each of the mesothelioma cancer cells. The chimeric antigen receptor therapy has been used in the past with successfully treating blood cancers but had not been effective at treating solid tumors. New developments in the therapy directly target the tumors.

Asbestos: How did I get exposed?

You find out that you have mesothelioma. Your doctor tells you that the most likely cause is exposure to asbestos. You probably inhaled the particles repeatedly over a long period of time. Those microscopic particles are nearly indestructible, and they wreak havoc on the human body once they get inside. The end result, for many, is mesothelioma.

You understand the science behind the disease and how it links back to asbestos. You understand the treatment options your doctor outlines for you. What you do not understand is how you got exposed to asbestos in the first place. What happened?

Researchers explore more effective mesothelioma treatment

Mesothelioma patients in Louisville may have access to improved treatment in the years ahead based on research into a blood-clotting pathway. Researchers at the Langone Medical Center in New York and the Cancer and Vascular Biology Research Center in Haifa, Israel, report that initial results were promising and that additional research is needed, including human clinical trials.

According to researchers, most people with mesothelioma see little benefit from chemotherapy treatments. Researchers focused on how they could block an enzyme called heparanase. Heparanase is responsible for allowing blood to clot by breaking down another substance produced by the body, heparin, which prevents clots. Most cancer tumors produce a lot of heparanase, and the result is that the tumors become more aggressive.

Risk of death among mesothelioma patients depends on type

Public health researchers from Italy have found that the risk of dying from mesothelioma rises and then falls over the decades following exposure to asbestos, yet these peaks and valleys differ based on the type of mesothelioma. Workers in Louisville who are exposed to asbestos may develop one of several types of this cancer. For instance, it may affect their peritoneum (the membrane lining the abdomen), pleurae (the lining of the lungs), or pericardium (the sac containing the heart). The chances of developing lung cancer are also high.

The research suggests that the risk of dying from peritoneal mesothelioma remains high even while the risk of dying from pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer begins to decrease. Peritoneal mesothelioma makes up about a fifth of the 2,500 mesothelioma cases that arise every year in the U.S. Pericardial mesothelioma is the rarest, and pleural mesothelioma is the most common.

Johnson & Johnson to pay $29 million in mesothelioma case

In December 2018, documents came to light showing that Johnson & Johnson has long had concerns about its talc-based products containing small amounts of asbestos. Some of these concerns date as far back as the 1970s. Now, the company is facing more than 13,000 lawsuits from consumers who claim to have been harmed by those products. Louisville residents might be interested to learn that one of those lawsuits has ended in a $29.4 million settlement.

The plaintiff was a California woman who claimed that the J&J baby powder she used regularly in the 1960s and 1970s had caused her to develop mesothelioma. She was diagnosed with this asbestos-related cancer in 2017. The jury awarded her the $29.4 million settlement after determining that the products were indeed defective.

Stage 4 mesothelioma and its treatments

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer affecting the pleura, or the protective lining of the lungs, and stage 4 mesothelioma is the final and most serious stage. At this point, the tumors have spread to the patient's chest wall, pericardium, diaphragm and other organs, such as the liver. Kentucky residents should know what the symptoms and treatments are.

The most common symptoms are shortness of breath and tightness in the abdomen. Patients may also experience chronic fatigue, night sweats, fever, pain and weight loss. Excessive fluid may develop in the chest and abdomen as well. Mesothelioma, at any stage, may be located by an MRI or PET scan. A biopsy can usually determine the stage of the cancer.

Types of mesothelioma and potential symptoms

Mesothelioma, which can come from asbestos exposure, is not the same in every case. Considering how dangerous this type of cancer is and how often it proves fatal, it's very important to know what types there are and what symptoms you may see. As with other cancers, the key lies in early detection and treatment. The more you know, the easier it is to spot a serious medical issue.

Below are some of the most common types of mesothelioma and their symptoms, though this is not an exhaustive list and should be not taken as medical advice. Always talk to your doctor if you think you may have mesothelioma. Proper medical treatment is critical.

You do not have to stand alone. Call 855-385-9532 to talk to a lawyer at Satterley & Kelley PLLC in Louisville.

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