A recent study by pharmaceutical company Merck’s Keytruda division published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that when doctors implement immunotherapy in concert with standard chemotherapy treatments, the rates of survival for lung cancer patients greatly increase. The study is particularly good news for mesothelioma and other lung cancer patients whose prognoses are often significantly worse since symptoms do not present themselves until the cancer has metastasized and spread to other vital organs.
Also known as pembrolizumab, Keytruda has already been prescribed for some time now to patients who have a type of malignant cancer called non-small cell lung cancer, the principal form of lung cancer and found most commonly in people who smoked cigarettes. Merck decided to expand the study of Keytruda by prescribing the drug to other lung cancer patients who were not obvious candidates for the benefits expected from the drug.
The results of the study show that when immunotherapy is introduced, the rates for death or having the cancer worsen are cut almost in half, an incredible feat that could help more than 70,000 lung cancer patients in the United States. Other studies that included immunotherapy drugs Opdivo and Yervoy, developed by pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb, have come out showing the benefits of immunotherapy for advanced lung cancer patients. Opdivo and Yervoy were found to be especially effective in patients with cancers that have gene flaws the drugs can exploit to help the immune system attack.
Immunotherapy works by using the patient’s own immune system to target and destroy cancer cells in a one-two punch with traditional chemotherapy and radiation therapy. For current mesothelioma patients, treatment options are limited due to the latency period that can last anywhere from 20 to 50-years before symptoms show and doctors diagnose the disease. Often times, mesothelioma patients are not able to have surgery to remove their tumors and instead must rely solely on chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatments, which can have serious side effects that can greatly affect quality of life.
Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer that commonly affects the thin linings of tissue around the lungs but can also affect other vital organs like the heart and abdomen. The disease is directly linked to exposure to asbestos, a flaky white mineral once commonly used in a variety of industrial and commercial applications many decades ago but continues to affect victims to this day. While there is no cure for mesothelioma, the results of the recently Merck study and others give promise to patients looking to defeat the disease and live longer, healthier lives.
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If you or a loved one wasdiagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced nationwide mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.
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