Clinical Drug Trial Yields Disappointing Results

A recent Phase II clinical trial delivered disappointing results when researchers concluded that adding bevacizumab to the traditional mesothelioma treatment combination of gemcitabine and cisplatin did not improve mesothelioma patient survival rates.

Hedy L. Kindler, M.D. headed the study, conducted by specialists from 11 of the top cancer research facilities in the U.S. and published in an upcoming issue of the Journal Clinical Oncology. The test was a randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled evaluation of the combination of bevacizumab with traditional cancer chemotherapy drugs.

Bevacizumab is an anti-Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) antibody, used to help the development of blood vessles, cell growth, and dividion. The researchers hoped that this combination treatment would lengthen the life expectancy of patients with mesothelioma, a particularly aggressive form of cancer that most often affects the lungs. Roughly 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.

In the study, 108 patients were evaluated. Each patient was given 1250 mg of gemcitabine, 75 mg of cisplatin, and 15 mg of bevacizumab. The gemcitabine was given on days 1,8, and every 21 days. Cisplatin was administered every 21 days, and the bevacizumab or a placebo was given every 21 days for six cycles. After this point, bevacizumab was given every 21 days until the cancer progressed.

For patients who got the bevacizumab, the median progression-free survival time (PFS) was 6.9 months, and the PFS for placebo patients was 6.0 months.

The median overall survival (OS) times for bevacizumab and placebo patient s were 15.6 and 14.7. Although the double-blind study did show a slight increase in PFS and OS for bevacizumab patients, the numbers were not statistically significant.

Study authors include Theodore G. Karrison, David R. Gandara, Charles Lu, Lee M. Krug, along with 12 others. In spite of initially disappointing results, other experimental mesothelioma treatment options are currently showing significant promise.

Experts including Raffit Hassan have learned that drugs like SS1 may be combined to add months to mesothelioma patients’ lives. In addition to this, University of Sydney researchers have also found that other cancer treatment drugs may be helpful in the treatment of mesothelioma. According to Dr. Des Richardson, who ran the study, “This will present a significant step forward in the fight against cancer and provide cancer sufferers new hope for a better outcome.”

In another advance, thoracic surgeon Dr. Robert Cameron of the Pacific Meso Center, recently spoke on the benefits of lung-sparing pleurectomy/decortation (PD) surgery in comparison to extrapleural pneumonectomy treatment.

Doctors and scientists continually experiment with cancer treatment and diagnosis methods in the hope of eventually eliminating mesothelioma. If you or someone you love suffers from mesothelioma, speak with your treatment team about experimental or alternative treatments that may be right for your particular case.