Mesothelioma is a frightening diagnosis. This rare form of cancer develops in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. It is caused by asbestos exposure and can take up to 50 years to present with symptoms. Once diagnosed, the prognosis is generally dire with most people living 12 to 24 months. But a new treatment is giving hope to many people with malignant mesothelioma.

As reported by Cure®, an online publication examining various types of cancers and their treatment, when Russell Lamkins was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma in August 2014, he was told he had six months to a year to live. He had worked in the Marine Corps until 1967 and then went into construction—two occupations where he was likely exposed to asbestos. Lamkins started on chemotherapy and immunotherapy, but his disease quickly progressed.

In 2016, he and his wife sat down with a cancer specialist who offered him an experimental treatment: “If you want to be a guinea pig … fine,” Lamkin recalled the doctor saying. “I thought, what did I have to lose? Maybe this is the miracle drug. If not, it’s going to help someone down the line,” he says. He became the second patient to enroll in a clinical trial that offered transarterial chemoperfusion, a therapy that involves a direct infusion of high concentrations of medicine into the cancerous tissue in the lining of his lungs.

The phase 2 trial involved 27 patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. All had received previous chemotherapy and some had received multiple lines of chemotherapy. All continued to see disease progression before enrollment into the study. The interim results showed a 70.3% disease control rate and a median overall survival rate of 8.5 months from the start of the chemoperfusion treatment. The rate of major complications was just 1.4% and most side effects were relatively minor and included mild nausea and chest pain.

Results from the clinical trial were presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology in June. The news of a new, safe and effective treatment for improving the quality of life for patients with such few treatment options was hopeful.

Dr. Bela Kis, an interventional radiologist at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, and principal investigator on the study told Cure®, “We were pleasantly surprised to find that this treatment doesn’t come with the same side effects of traditional intravenous chemotherapy. To see these promising results with so few side effects means we are able to make a positive impact on quality of life for these patients.”

Researchers are looking to expand the study to other cancer centers with larger populations of patients with pleural mesothelioma and to add flexibility to dosing.

As for Lamkins, who is six years past his initial diagnosis, he’s keeping his eyes on the future. “I have a list of stuff that my wife tells me I have to get done,” he told Cure® with a laugh. “So, as long as I have a list, I’ve got to keep chugging along.”

Mesothelioma litigation

Beasley Allen lawyers handle mesothelioma claims. They are looking at cases of industrial, occupational and secondary asbestos exposure resulting in lung cancer or mesothelioma as well as claims of asbestos-related talc products linked to mesothelioma. Charlie Stern in our Toxic Torts Section is the lead attorney working on these types of cases. As an experienced mesothelioma lawyer, Charlie is well equipped to tackle asbestos cases, which are highly complicated and require someone with a true understanding of the facts, medical issues, science and law. He is working together with Will Sutton, an experienced lawyer in our Toxic Torts Section. Contact us for more information.

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