Multimodal therapy is the most effective treatment option for patients diagnosed with mesothelioma. It’s a combination of two or more treatment options and has produced amazing increases in patients’ life expectancies. Researchers are always testing new ways to improve multimodal treatment in clinical trials, including the combination of new therapies, like immunotherapy and photodynamic therapy, with traditional treatments like surgery.
Benefits of Multimodal Treatment
Personalization: Combining multiple treatments allows mesothelioma specialists to tailor a treatment plan that is unique to each patient, which often makes treatment more effective.
Improved Survival: The combination of treatments can lead to long-term survival. In recent years, doctors have discovered that tweaking how they administer radiation prior to surgery allows some patients to live several years after their diagnosis.
Thanks to the current effectiveness of multimodal therapy, many patients have defied their prognoses to tell their own stories of survival.
How Multimodal Therapy Works
Your doctor will create a multimodal therapy using 3 methods: neoadjuvant, intraoperative, and adjuvant. depending on your diagnosis and overall health, he or she may use more than one of these methods to attack the mesothelioma.
Neoadjuvant: Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is the application of chemotherapy before surgery. Treating mesothelioma with chemotherapy before surgery shrinks tumors, so that your surgeon can more easily remove them.
In a recent medical study, researchers reported that patients who received neoadjuvant chemotherapy experienced a median survival rate of approximately 29 months—more than double the average life expectancy of patients with mesothelioma.
Intraoperative: Doctors give intraoperative chemotherapy and radiation therapy during surgery. Doing so helps them kill microscopic mesothelioma cells—which are invisible to the naked eye—after they remove the tumor.
Dr. Paul Sugarbaker developed the most successful use of intraoperative chemotherapy for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma: cytoreduction with HIPEC. In a 2014 study, a group of mesothelioma researchers reported that the median survival time for patients treated once with the procedure was about 27 months; those patients who had follow–up treatments with HIPEC experienced an extended survival time of 80 months.
Success in Clinical Trials
Researchers have recently had much success developing new combinations of multimodal therapies in clinical trials. In 2011, Dr. Joseph Friedberg—a mesothelioma specialist who pioneered the use of photodynamic therapy (PDT) to treat mesothelioma—conducted a study showing just how effective the combination of PDT and surgery is. He and a team of researchers combined the new treatment and a pleurectomy with decortication (P/D), improving the survival time of patients with advanced-stage pleural mesothelioma to approximately 32 months.
Is It Right For You?
Your doctor will determine if having multimodal therapy is right for you by reviewing cell type, cancer stage, and location of the mesothelioma. They do so because some patients aren’t healthy enough to receive surgery, while chemotherapy makes others too sick. Speak to a experienced doctor to find out if you’re eligible for multimodal therapy—and always get a second opinion.