Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a rare and aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and chest wall. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, and it typically has a poor prognosis. However, in recent years, immunotherapy has emerged as a promising treatment option for MPM. In this answer, we will discuss the success rates of immunotherapy for MPM and how long the treatment typically lasts.
Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that harnesses the power of the immune system to fight cancer cells. There are several types of immunotherapy, including checkpoint inhibitors, CAR T-cell therapy, and cancer vaccines. In the case of MPM, the most commonly used type of immunotherapy is checkpoint inhibitors.
Checkpoint inhibitors are drugs that block the proteins on cancer cells that prevent the immune system from attacking them. By blocking these proteins, checkpoint inhibitors can help the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells. There are several checkpoint inhibitors that have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of MPM, including pembrolizumab and nivolumab.
Studies have shown that immunotherapy can be effective in treating MPM. For example, a study published in The Lancet Oncology in 2019 found that pembrolizumab, when used as a first-line treatment for MPM, improved overall survival compared to chemotherapy. The study involved 344 patients with MPM who had not received any prior treatment. The patients were randomly assigned to receive either pembrolizumab or chemotherapy. The study found that patients who received pembrolizumab had a median overall survival of 20.0 months, compared to 12.1 months for patients who received chemotherapy.
Another study, published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine in 2020, found that nivolumab, when used as a second-line treatment for MPM, improved overall survival compared to placebo. The study involved 332 patients with MPM who had previously received chemotherapy. The patients were randomly assigned to receive either nivolumab or placebo. The study found that patients who received nivolumab had a median overall survival of 9.2 months, compared to 6.6 months for patients who received placebo.
It is important to note that not all patients with MPM will respond to immunotherapy. In fact, the response rates to immunotherapy in MPM are generally lower than in other types of cancer. For example, the response rate to pembrolizumab in MPM is around 20%, compared to a response rate of around 40% in non-small cell lung cancer. However, even for patients who do not respond to immunotherapy, the treatment can still provide some benefit in terms of delaying disease progression and improving quality of life.
The duration of immunotherapy treatment for MPM varies depending on the specific drug being used and the patient’s individual response to treatment. In general, immunotherapy treatment for MPM is given until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. For example, patients who receive pembrolizumab as a first-line treatment for MPM typically receive treatment for up to 24 months, or until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity occurs. Patients who receive nivolumab as a second-line treatment for MPM typically receive treatment until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity occurs.
In conclusion, immunotherapy has emerged as a promising treatment option for MPM. While the response rates to immunotherapy in MPM are generally lower than in other types of cancer, studies have shown that immunotherapy can improve overall survival and quality of life for some patients with MPM. The duration of immunotherapy treatment for MPM varies depending on the specific drug being used and the patient’s individual response to treatment.