University of Maryland Breakthrough Could Improve Mesothelioma Treatments

The University of Maryland’s recent discovery may change the outcome and survival of mesothelioma treatments

University of Maryland Breakthrough Could Improve Mesothelioma Treatments

The University of Maryland’s recent discovery may change the outcome and survival of mesothelioma treatments. Staging of pleural mesothelioma, the deadliest form and most common, may help with aggressive treatments in cancer that has a survival rate of 18 months.

The staging process occurs when doctors attempt to uncover how advanced the cancer is for a patient. Staging has a direct impact on the treatment options available. Researchers at the University of Maryland have discovered a new set of lymph nodes, previously ignored when staging mesothelioma, that may be critical in the staging process.

Posterior intercostal lymph nodes, which sit between the ribs, had previously been ignored in the staging process. Researchers found that when cancer reaches these lymph nodes, patients are twice as likely to die or have recurrent mesothelioma.

"Decades of extensive use led to illness and death for many who worked directly with the substance during its peak usage from 1960 to 1980," explains Vogelzang Law. Mesothelioma, caused by asbestos, is a very aggressive form of cancer with a high mortality rate.

Lymph node involvement, according to researchers, doubles the patient’s risk of death. The study focused on 56 patients with pleural mesothelioma who underwent the extensive lung-sparing surgery

Researchers suggest, based on the most recent study, that these lymph nodes be removed because they may harbor metastatic disease. The study found that out of 56 patients, 48% had mesothelioma cells in these lymph nodes.

The risk of death when the cancer cells were found in posterior intercostal lymph nodes was 2 – 3 times higher and recurrence was 2.5 times higher. Dr. Friedberg, the leading researcher of the study, claims that although there is not a non-invasive way to examine these lymph nodes for cancer cells, it should be a goal for researchers moving forward.

Staging advancements, thanks to the new findings, may result in patients with a high risk of death or recurrence from undergoing extensive surgery if cancer has spread to these lymph nodes. Patients will also be able to better make decisions on which treatment options to pursue and at what level of aggressiveness they want to treat their cancer.

Italian researchers are also testing gold nanoparticles for the treatment of mesothelioma. The chemo-carrying particles were tested on pleural mesothelioma cells in the lab. Initial findings suggest that the nanoparticles were able to deliver treatment with a higher success rate, but researchers have yet to try the new form of treatment on humans to determine its effectiveness.

Updated Date: 30 June 2020, 17:02

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