The mesothelioma chemotherapy cocktail served most often by mesothelioma specialist doctors to mesothelioma patients like you is a blend of two agents: pemetrexed and cisplatin.
Among mesothelioma specialist doctors, this is referred to as the gold standard of mesothelioma care. Pemetrexed together with cisplatin has held that status since 2003.
The combination is also the standard of care for a number of other cancers. But the pemetrexed-cisplatin cocktail works better against just about all of those others than it does against mesothelioma.
Indeed, if you were to draw up a list of those other cancers and then rank them for pemetrexed-cisplatin’s ability to extend survival time, mesothelioma would come in near or at the very bottom.
That may be about to change. It will, if findings from a recent phase III study out of France are accepted by the mesothelioma specialist physician community here in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world.
Extending Mesothelioma Survival Is the Goal
At the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in June, the French researchers announced what could soon emerge as the new gold standard for mesothelioma care — the same chemotherapy cocktail as before but with a twist of bevacizumab.
Bevacizumab — made by Genentech, Inc., and sold under the brand name Avastin — earned U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in 2004, originally as a treatment for metastatic colon cancer. Since then, it has emerged as a treatment for certain lung cancers other than mesothelioma.
Bevacizumab works by curtailing the amount of nutrients and oxygen able to reach a cancer cell. This depravation interferes with the cell’s ability to divide and conquer.
Researchers in France and elsewhere noted the ability of bevacizumab to cut off oxygen and nutrient flow. That got them wondering what would happen if it was offered by itself as a mesothelioma treatment.
Initially, it looked like bevacizumab might turn out to be a useful weapon in the fight to extend mesothelioma survival. But, unfortunately, no — the final results were somewhat disappointing.
Still, the French researchers didn’t give up hope for bevacizumab. They noticed certain things about its performance that suggested it might work better if it were paired with other mesothelioma chemo drugs.
So, eventually, they decided to combine bevacizumab with the pemetrexed-cisplatin blend. This time, the results were very good.
So good that it wasn’t long before the researchers started talking about this triple-threat chemotherapy blast as a contender for taking the crown as the mesothelioma treatment gold standard.
Bevacizumab-Pemetrexed-Cisplatin Clinical Trial for Mesothelioma
The bevacizumab-pemetrexed-cisplatin clinical trial was officially known as MAPS – Mesothelioma Avastin cisplatin Pemetrexed Study. It was led by the French Cooperative Thoracic Intergroup.
For the study, 448 men were enrolled, and 65 was the median age. The majority of the participants had pleural mesothelioma of the epithelioid cell type and none had previously undergone chemotherapy. Their mesothelioma was too far advanced to be treated with surgery.
The MAPS researchers found that the three-ingredient mesothelioma chemotherapy treatment increased median overall survival.
Specifically, the bevacizumab plus pemetrexed-cisplatin cocktail resulted in a median overall mesothelioma survival of nearly 19 months.
Compare that to the median overall mesothelioma survival of the current gold standard: 12.1 months and you can begin to understand why mesothelioma specialist doctors and other researchers are highly intrigued.
Bevacizumab with pemetrexed-cisplatin is a mesothelioma chemotherapy option you’re going to be hearing a lot more about in the months and years ahead.