Mesothelioma is a form of cancer caused by previous exposure to asbestos. An exposure of as little as one or two months can result in mesothelioma 30 or 40 years later. Simian virus 40 SV40 may act as a cofactor in the development of mesothelioma.
Malignant mesothelioma is the most serious of all asbestos-related diseases. The two major types of malignant mesothelioma are pleural mesothelioma which concerns the mesothelium membrane that surrounds the lungs and peritoneal mesothelioma which concerns the mesothelium layer that covers the organs in the abdominal cavity.
The people most at risk from being carriers of this cancer are those have worked with asbestos over the past thirty to fifty years. Because of this the disease is most common in men between the ages of sixty and seventy as this is the group that commonly worked with asbestos during those years. Because of the lack of protection and regulations in those days these workers were constantly exposed to the dust and fibres from the asbestos which caused the cells of the mesothelium to become abnormal. Many building materials used in both public and domestic premises prior to the banning of asbestos may contain asbestos. Those performing renovation works or diy activities may expose themselves to asbestos dust.
Mesothelium helps protect the organs by producing a special lubricating fluid that allows organs to move around. Mesothelioma is an malignant cancer that infects the membrane that surrounds most of the internal organs.
Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 20 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Shortness of breath cough and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleural space are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma.
Affecting the mesothelial cells that make up the mesothelium the outer lining that protects the body’s major organs such as the heart, stomach and lungs. Pleural mesothelioma represents 75% of mesothelioma cases but it is far from the only type of this deadly cancer. Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the lining around the stomach and intestines and is just as dangerous and deadly.
Treatment of MM using conventional therapies has not proved successful and patients have a median survival time of 6 12 months after presentation. The clinical behaviour of the malignancy is affected by several factors including the continuous mesothelial surface of the pleural cavity.
Mesothelioma Cancer Treatment and Prevention Tips
- Health-care workers who specialize in part control are employing state-of-the art techniques to successfully fight pain
- During the initial stages of mesothelioma pain can be relieved with over-the-counter analgesics such as aspirin Tylenol or ibuprofen Advil Motrin
- Drug therapy is the primary method for treating mesothelioma pain
- Non-Opoids are pain-relieving medicines such as acetaminophen Tylenol and NSAIDs such as ibuprofin which can be purchases over-the-counter and taken orally
- Opoids are the strongest medicines available to treat pain. Opoids such as codeine morphine oxcodone fentany and hydromorphone are very effective in relieving mesothelioma pain
- Adjuvant analgesics are medicines intended for purposes other than pain relief. A number of these are used to alleviate pain associated with mesothelioma such as antidepressants anticonvulsants and steroids
- Emotional Support to Help Relieve Pain. As with all aspects of mesothelioma emotional support from family or professional counseling can play a key role in pain management
- For patients with localized disease and who can tolerate a radical surgery radiation is often given post-operatively as a consolidative treatment
- Chrysotile has been used more frequently hence many mesotheliomas are caused by chrysotile
- Removal is taking place in schools and other public buildings throughout the U.S. The hope is that these measures will greatly reduce the occurrence of this cancer
Mesothelioma drug slows disease progression in patients with an inactive NF2 gene
Preliminary findings from the first trial of a new drug for patients with mesothelioma show that it has some success in preventing the spread of the deadly disease in patients lacking an active tumour suppressor gene called NF2. The study is presented at the 24th EORTC-NCI-AACR  Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Dublin, Ireland, November 9 .
Mesothelioma has few treatment options and patients usually die within 9-17 months of diagnosis. Previous research has shown that the gene NF2, which produces a protein called merlin, is frequently inactivated in approximately 50% of mesotheliomas. Merlin negatively regulates another protein called focal adhesion kinase (FAK) in mesothelioma, and so when NF2 and merlin are inactivated, the activity of FAK is increased and mesothelioma cells become invasive and start to spread. When NF2 and merlin activity is restored, FAK activity and cell invasion are decreased.
Professor Jean-Charles Soria, Professor of Medicine and Medical Oncology at South Paris University and head of early drug development at the Institut Gustave Roussy in Paris (France), said: “This suggested that if we could inhibit FAK in mesothelioma patients, it might slow or stop the spread of the disease. Pre-clinical work has shown that an agent, currently known as GSK2256098, is a potent and specific inhibitor of FAK. Early in the clinical study presented November 9, a patient with mesothelioma, who had progressed quickly on prior therapies, had prolonged stable disease while on GSK2256098, which is suggestive of clinical activity.”
Prof Soria and colleagues at nine centres in France, Australia and the United Kingdom recruited 29 mesothelioma patients to the phase I study of GSK2256098, starting in July 2010. The study is continuing.
The mesothelioma patients took the drug orally in capsule form twice a day at doses ranging from 300 -1500 mg, with the majority (22) taking 1000 mg a day. There were no complete or partial responses; 14 patients had stable disease, nine had progressive disease, three had non-measurable disease, and three left the study before evaluation of response. Overall, patients had an average of 17 weeks before the disease progressed.
However, in patients in whom merlin was inactivated, the average time before the disease progressed was 24 weeks, compared to 11 weeks in patients with active merlin and nearly 11 weeks in patients in whom the activity of merlin was unknown.
Adverse side-effects were mainly low grade and tolerable.
“These findings are important but preliminary,” said Prof Soria. “They show that merlin is a potential biomarker in mesothelioma that may enable us to identify a subset of patients who could benefit from GSK2256098 and have longer, progression-free survival. Mesothelioma is a deadly disease without many treatment options, and therefore identification of novel and effective therapies is needed.”
The researchers will accumulate and analyse further data, and larger clinical trials will be needed to confirm these findings. In addition, other cancers such as melanoma and meningioma (tumours of the membranes around the central nervous system) show loss of NF2 and merlin function, and so researchers are also investigating whether the findings from this trial may be relevant to other cancers.
Professor Stefan Sleijfer, the scientific chair of the EORTC-NCI-AACR Symposium, from Erasmus University Medical Centre (The Netherlands), commented: “This study strongly suggests that inactivation of merlin may act as a marker to identify patients who may benefit from this compound. Furthermore, better insight into the role of merlin in mesothelioma may lead to novel targets of treatment. This is highly needed given the detrimental prognosis of patients suffering from mesothelioma.”
 EORTC [European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer, NCI [National Cancer Institute], AACR [American Association for Cancer Research].  Abstract no: 610. Poster session, Phase I trials, 09.00 hrs, 9 November.  The study is funded by GlaxoSmithKline.
Source: The above post is reprinted from materials provided by The European CanCer Organisation (ECCO).
Date: November 8, 2012
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