Some Louisville workers who are suffering from mesothelioma may have access to a new treatment. While more study is needed, in May, the federal Food and Drug Administration approved it under the Humanitarian Device Exemption for first-line treatment. The treatment, known as Tumor Treating Fields, is made by Novocure and used alongside chemotherapy. It involves a device that uses electric fields to shut down cancer cell division.
There have been trials at 12 sites across Europe. In 2018, study results showed one-year survival rates of more than 62% and two-year survival rates of more than 41%. The median survival rate for participants is more than 18 months. This is nearly twice as long as the rate for people who are treated only with chemotherapy. However, some patients showed much better outcomes. Of the 13 patients at a trial site in Italy, three patients are doing well after three years and another has had no sign of recurrence in four years and no further progression of the disease.
Tumor Treating Fields is not an appropriate treatment for every patient, and more research should be done in pinpointing patients most likely to see good results from treatment. This involves identifying certain molecular biomarkers. FDA approval means that the first patient in the U.S. began treatment in September.
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is the result of asbestos exposure, and people often develop it at their workplace. This means that in some cases, people may be able to take action against a former employer. Individuals who get mesothelioma or whose loved ones have mesothelioma may want to consult an attorney to discuss how to proceed.