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How radiotherapy may extend the life of mesothelioma patients

The European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology held its annual ESTRO 38 conference, during which a study was presented that may intrigue mesothelioma patients in Louisville. The study found that radiotherapy, which has been used to control the symptoms of mesothelioma, may actually do much more that is positive for patients.

Namely, high-dose radiotherapy for the affected side of the patient's trunk, also called radical hemi-thoracic radiotherapy, will double the chances of the patient living two years or longer than if he or she did not undergo treatment. Researchers looked at 108 patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma who underwent surgery and chemotherapy. Half were randomly chosen for this high-dose radiotherapy; the others had palliative radiotherapy.

About 58% of the first group were still living two years after the treatment whereas only 28% of the second group survived for that long. Researchers admit that there were several dangerous side effects: 20% of the first group suffered from inflammation of the lung, known as radiation pneumonitis, as well as mild inflammation of the esophagus, physical weakness and nausea.

Researchers hope that combining radical hemi-thoracic radiotherapy with immunotherapy, a treatment that tries to induce the body to fight cancer cells, leads to even better results. It all depends on whether patients can make it to a cancer center with the right expertise.

Mesothelioma is one of the deadliest of asbestos-related illnesses, along with lung cancer, and those who are diagnosed with it may find out that the condition could have been prevented. For example, they may have been exposed to asbestos at their workplace and the employer did nothing to mitigate the risk. Whatever the situation, victims may want to talk with an attorney about whether they are eligible to file a claim. A successful claim may reimburse them for medical expenses, lost wages and other losses.

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