Mesothelioma is difficult to beat back. There are many theories about why this is so. The newest of these ideas has to do with pleural effusions.
Scientists in Australia think there’s something about these fluids that helps malignant pleural mesothelioma grow, spread and resist chemotherapy.
The researchers are from the University of Western Australia, the Institute for Respiratory Health and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, all in the city of Perth.
They conducted a number of experiments with pleural effusions and concluded that they have much the same effect on mesothelioma that kerosene has when poured on a fire.
“Pleural fluid from mesothelioma patients… consistently stimulated cell proliferation in five mesothelioma cell lines tested,” the researchers wrote in an article published in the online edition of the journal Respirology.
Translation: mesothelioma tumors increased in size every time they were fed some chest fluid. It didn’t matter what mesothelioma cell line was involved in the tumor. It grew. And fast.
Worse, the researchers noticed that the chemotherapy cocktail of cisplatin and pemetrexed lost its punch against the mesothelioma tumors fueled by pleural fluid.
Pleural Effusions Common in Mesothelioma
Pleural effusions are a problem for nearly everyone who has malignant pleural mesothelioma. The researchers indicate that effusions show up in more than 90 percent of those patients.
Pleural fluid naturally exists in the space between the inner and outer linings of your lungs before you have mesothelioma. Mesothelioma causes this fluid to increase in volume. And it causes this fluid to keep increasing.
Eventually, you get so much fluid built up in the space between the linings that it becomes difficult to breathe. There is also quite a bit of pain that goes along with the fluid buildup.
One startling discovery made by the University of Western Australia researchers is that this fluid is actually part of a vicious cycle.
Pleural effusions begin reaching excess quantity as mesothelioma cells get started. The more your mesothelioma grows, the more pleural effusions you have. The more pleural effusions you have, the more your mesothelioma grows.
Pleural Effusions Samples Taken from Mesothelioma Patients
You might be surprised to learn that past research dealing with pleural effusions didn’t really consider if they were an aid to mesothelioma growth, spread and treatment resistance.
The Australian researchers are apparently the first to look into this possibility.
“[Malignant pleural effusion is] rich in growth mediators but its contribution to tumor biology has not been investigated,” they wrote in their article.
“This ‘proof-of-concept’ study reveals potent biological capabilities of malignant pleural fluid in mesothelioma…” they concluded.
Conducting this research involved gathering pleural fluid samples from 151 patients. Fifty-six of these patients had malignant pleural mesothelioma.
Sixty others had a metastatic pleural cancer. Samples were taken from them for comparison and control purposes. Comparison and control samples were also collected from the remaining 35 patients in the cohort (they had only benign conditions).
The researchers were able to obtain from the study patients seven different mesothelioma cell lines. The collected cell lines were cultured in the lab.
These specimens were fed pleural fluid through an infusion process. The researchers made observations and drew conclusions accordingly.
The title of the researchers’ article is “Malignant Pleural Fluid from Mesothelioma has Potent Biological Activities.”