Mesothelioma Research Foundation of America:

High Platelet Count May Allow For Early Diagnosis

Posted on May 26, 2017 2:10pm PDT

One of the worst aspects of mesothelioma is the difficulty in catching the cancer before it reaches a very late stage.

The majority of mesothelioma diagnoses come once the cancer is already in a very advanced stage which limits treatment options and the efficacy of those treatment options. A new study out of the United Kingdom signals that a simple blood test may be the answer to that problem.

The report, published in the British Journal of General Practice studied over 50,000 cancer cases. While the study did not specifically deal with mesothelioma, it did not focus on any other specific type of cancer either suggesting that the method has a broad range of applicability. The blood test focused on whether the patient had an elevated platelet count. One of the most salient results from the study included a group of patients with high platelet counts who later developed lung or colo-rectal cancer had no other cancer symptoms other than the elevated counts.

Ms. Baily, a co-author of the report stated that “This is a clue which can be used in practice by GPs to help them select patients for further investigation … most excitingly in some patients who may not already have other symptoms of cancer to achieve earlier diagnosis.” With early dignosis it may be possible to provide longer more productive treatment outcomes for mesothelioma patients.


Innovative Mesothelioma Research Treatment Receives Special FDA Status

Posted on May 23, 2017 10:08am PDT

The process of taking a treatment device or medicine from concept and research to market is a very long, arduous, and extremely expensive process. There are however special status exemptions that make the process easier for orphan diseases or rarer conditions.

The FDA recently announced that Novacure’s Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields) delivery system is being granted Humanitarian Use Device (HUD) status which is the first step in receiving the Humanitarian Device Exception (HDE) status. The HDE designation would allow the treatment to be marketed in conjunction with the standard chemotherapy care.

The TTfields device emits low-intensity electricity through a portable device that a patient can carry around with them. The electricity is able to prevent cancerous cells from multiplying as quickly by inhibiting the cell division process. Prelimary results have shown significant increases in survival times. Novacure’s CEo stated that “We believe that treatment with TTFields affects fundamental aspects of cell division and may have broad applicability across a variety of solid tumors. We are pleased to receive HUD designation as it is a major step towards a second regulatory approval for TTFields in the United States.”


Soluble Mesothelin May Help Predict Treatment Outcomes

Posted on May 21, 2017 10:29am PDT

New research reported in a study published in Oncotarget concluded that a protein typically used to track and diagnose mesothelioma may be a helpful tool in predicting treatment outcomes.

By tracking soluble mesothelin-related protein (SMRP) levels in the blood doctors can determine the efficacy of the treatments being used.

There are many prognostic tools that doctors use to predict the outcome of treatments such as age, overall health, and at which stage the cancer is caught. Seeking more reliable prognosis tools, the research team analyzed 579 cases. Dr. Long Tian, an author of the study stated that, “The results showed that soluble mesothelin level was significantly correlated with the survival of malignant pleural mesothelioma.”

The tests confirmed that those with the highest level of SMRP in the blood had the worst prognosis. Used in conjunction with other bio-markers SMRP analysis will likely provide the highest degree of accuracy.


More text articles

New Evidence Points to NLR as an Important Prognostic Tool

Posted on Apr 25, 2017 12:53pm PDT

While recent studies have concluded that the neutrophils to lymphocytes ratio or NLR may be a poor indicator of cancer, new research suggests that NLR may be a helpful prognostic tool with respect to developing mesothelioma treatment protocols.

The study published in Oncotarget conducted an analysis of 10 other studies which covered the cases of 1,500 mesothelioma patients.

NLR is a marker for inflammation in the body and therefore NLR provides a snapshot of the overall health of the immune system, a function vital to fight malignant cancer cells and to fight against new tumors. Improved treatment strategies could be key in extending survival times or quality of life during those survival times. NLR has also shown promise in helping approving mesothelioma patients for clinical trials.


Myths About Mesothelioma

Posted on Apr 24, 2017 9:25am PDT

Myth #1 Mesothelioma Only Affects Senior Citizens

Because mesothelioma typically takes 10 to 50 years to manifest the largest demographic of those suffering from mesothelioma are over the age of 65 but it’s a misconception to say that they’re the only ones. There are a growing number of individuals much younger who have been devastated by the disease. Unfortunately, we have come across cases in our practice where young girls who helped their fathers with clothing contaminated with asbestos from the job site be subsequently diagnosed with mesothelioma. The worrying trend is also a product of asbestos in schools that are failing to properly contain the mineral and preventing disturbances which can lead to deadly exposure.

Myth #2 It’s Caused by Smoking

Smoking does not cause mesothelioma, nor does smoking make you more likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma. This misconception may exist because smokers who are also exposed to asbestos have a greater chance of being diagnosed with lung cancer

Myth #3 Only Long Term Exposure Causes Mesothelioma

While long term exposure does increase the chances of a mesothelioma diagnosis, it is not required. Modern medical surveys and the Environmental Protection Agency have said in no uncertain terms that there is no safe level of exposure.

Myth #4 Mesothelioma Only Impacts the Lungs

Approximately 75% of all cases are pleural or based in the lungs but there are several other forms. The next most common type is peritoneal which impacts the lining of the abdomen. Pericardial mesothelioma which effects the lining of the heart is a rarer form which impacts approximately 1% of those diagnosed. Even rarer than pericardial is the testicular form (men) as well as the papillary form (women).

Myth #5 Asbestos is Banned in the United States

Although over 55 countries have banned the deadly mineral, the United States still actively imports asbestos into the country. While many new uses have been banned by the US Government there are still certain permitted applications.


New Study Reveals That Curcumin May Slow Mesothelioma Tumor Growth

Posted on Apr 23, 2017 10:44am PDT

A French study published in Oncotarget revealed that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, both slowed tumor growth and reduced tumor mass.

The study focuses on sarcomatoid mesothelioma - one of the rarest and deadliest forms.

The plant based drug has been the subject of much research in the mesothelioma field due to its natural anti-inflammatory properties. While curcumin has shown promising results, it’s still in the animal test phase. One of the author’s of the study, Dr. Pouliquen stated that, ““The treatment of tumor-bearing rats with 1.5 mg/kg curcumin on days 7, 9, 11 and 14 after tumor challenge dramatically reduced the mean total tumor mass at day 16.” Dr. Pouliquen went on to say that, ““These data open up interesting new prospects for the therapy of sarcomatoid mesothelioma with curcumin and its derivatives.”


Study Finds That Surgical Protocols May Have Greater Impact on Survival Times Than Designated Stage

Posted on Apr 22, 2017 10:52am PDT

A new report out of Belgium, published in the Acta Chirugica Belgica studied 101 pleural mesothelioma cases from 2001 to 2015.

The study found that the median survival time of 18.3 months. Of the cases studied the survival rates were as follows:

  • After 1 Year: 68% of patients were still living
  • After 2 Years: 37% of patients were still living
  • After 5 Years: 7% of patients were still living

Understanding the TNH system

The staging system is designed for predict outcomes and select treatment protocols based on three factors:

  • T – Original tumor size
  • N- level of lymph node involvement
  • M- Metastases or spread of the cancer

Surgery Versus The Staging System

The results of the study points to the idea that the stage alone may have negligible impact on survival rates. The author of the study reported that “A significant difference in survival was observed in patients undergoing surgery versus no surgery…and treatment with chemotherapy alone versus chemotherapy with surgery.” One of the other significant factors for survival times was whether the patient was a smoker. Smoker tended to have worse treatment outcomes.


Pleurectomy/Decortication (P/D) Methods and Mesothelioma Survival Rates

Posted on Apr 20, 2017 11:55am PDT

A new report published in the European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery studied the cases of 314 pleural mesothelioma patients from 2011 to 2014 who had P/D surgery to remove the pleural membrane from their diseased lung.

The study concludes that not all P/D methods are created equal. Of the three P/D methods, the researchers concluded that only two had positive impacts on survival rates.

The three P/D surgical protocols examined were Extended P/D, P/D, and Partial P/D.

  • Extended (radical) P/D: (162 patient cases) Includes removal of the membrane around the lungs, heart, diaphragm, as well as other tissues
  • P/D: (115 patient cases) The standard mesothelioma surgical procedure which just leaving more tissue untouched than the extended P/D.
  • Partial P/D: (37 patient cases) Only attempts to remove the pleura but does not seek to remove all of the tumor tissue.

Marulli, the author of the study concluded that, “Whether the P/D is extended or not, it shows similarly good outcomes in terms of early results and survival rate. In contrast, a partial pleurectomy, which leaves gross tumour behind, has no impact on survival.”


New App is an Invaluable Tool for Mesothelioma Patients

Posted on Apr 19, 2017 9:18am PDT

The fear of the unknown and confusion that accompanies a mesothelioma diagnosis is something that no one can truly understand unless they have been through the experience. To help combat this confusion physicians from Australia developed an app that helps patients to organize their medical records, treatment schedule, appointments, and the point of contact information for all of their healthcare providers.

The app even allows healthcare providers to who use the application to provide patient specific treatment plans and advice.

The information that the patient inputs into the device provides healthcare providers with an efficient way to get vital patient information. While the app is designed to help patients with all types of cancers, it is likely that it will be an invaluable resource for mesothelioma patients.

Currently CancerAid is the leading cancer app in the apple store for the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom. There have been over 30,000 downloads and the numbers continue to rise. To learn more about the application click here.


Dental Techs May Be Subject To An Elevated Risk Of Mesothelioma

Posted on Apr 18, 2017 2:57pm PDT

In a study published just last week in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine it was revealed that dental technicians may be subject to an elevated risk of mesothelioma, an often overlooked piece of information in the dental field.

The Italian study observed 5,344 pleural mesothelioma cases in Italy ranging from year 2000 to 2014. Of the sample there were four individuals who where subkected to 100% of all of their exposure from the dental field. These individual included three males and one female who helped her husband make dental implants for over 30 years. Total exposure between the technicians ranged from 4 to 34 years.

Asbestos was previously used as a binder in periodontal dressings as well as the heat resistant tape in implants. The dental field was one of those industries that many thought wouldn’t be effected by asbestos exposure however according to the author of the journal article, Caroline Mensi, “We confirm the association of malignant mesothelioma with dental technician work.”


French Study Inks Cellular Factors With Survival Rates

Posted on Apr 16, 2017 5:12pm PDT

Medical researchers at the University Hospital of Saint Etienne published a study in the international journal, Virchows Archiv which involved 116 pleural mesothelioma patients. The French doctors came up with six sets of cellular characteristics which may have a bearing on survival rates.

The lead author of the study Cyril Habougit, stated that, "Our work shows that mitotic count <3/10 HPF, the lack of necrosis, mild nuclear atypia, the lack of atypical mitoses, a nucleoli size <3 um and a nucleoli absent or visible at 200x or higher magnification are significantly associated with a better median overall survival in epithelioid mesothelioma."

Currently, the less precise subtype is the only generally accepted way to predict survival rates using pathology. If these cellular factors could enable doctors to better target therapies leading to better treatment outcomes.


New Vaccine Seeks to Stop Mesothelioma Before It Ever Forms

Posted on Apr 14, 2017 3:19pm PDT

The Department of Defense has provided research grants of $550,000 Pietro Bertino and his team at the University of Hawaii to develop a vaccine aimed at preventing mesothelioma before it ever forms.

Dr. Bertino, the head of the research team, is optimistic at the progress they’ve already seen in the animal trials. Bertino’s approach is novel in the sense that it doesn’t seek to treat the malignant mesothelial cells but rather prevent them from ever forming in the first place.

The vaccine works by targeting specific proteins requisite for mesothelioma tumor growth. Early results show the vaccine successfully eradicated mesothelioma tumor cells in mice which ultimately lead to a tumor free life in 40% of the animal subjects. If successful, the vaccine could be administered to people who have bio-markers for a predisposition to mesothelioma as well as those who have a particularly risky occupational exposure history.

Pietro Bertino has a long history in the mesothelioma research and well regarded as an expert in his field. He grew up in Italy right next to a large asbestos plant and saw firsthand the devastating health effects of the dangerous mineral. Bertino stated, “This is a different kind of intervention, my final goal is to make a preventative vaccine and help perfect it. And if it works for mesothelioma, it could be effective in preventing other kinds of cancers, too.”

To read the full article from the University of Hawaii click here


Massage and Meditation May Provide A Healthy Outlet For Dealing With the Stress Of A Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Posted on Apr 13, 2017 5:26pm PDT

While there currently is no cure for mesothelioma there are treatment options.

Unfortunately, diagnoses typically come far too late for those treatments to be very effective. The stress of the diagnoses as well as the physical and mental toll treatment takes requires the mesothelioma patients to seek both physical and mental reinforcement. Mental wellbeing is critical to maximizing and increasing the quality of the precious time that the patient has remaining. Meditation and massage are both classified as Complimentary Alternative Medicine (CAM). According to the National Cancer Institute approximately 4 out of 10 adults take advantage of CAM therapies with the most common being deep breathing exercises.

In a study published in The American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care the researchers concluded that “massage, as well as other coveted CAM therapies, available as regularly offered options to enrollees in hospice and palliative care programs may offer significant benefit, particularly if provided over an extended period.”

Research continually shows positive and meaningful improvements in the quality of life of those even with terminal cancers. Because scheduling a massage is a little more intuitive than practicing meditation, we’ve provided some techniques below which were compiled by Cancer Forward.

Sitting Meditation Tips:

  • Sit in a comfortable and dignified position. If you are using a chair, sit in one with a straight back with your feet flat on the floor or a bolster if your feet don’t reach the floor. If you sit on the floor, you may want to sit cross-legged style with a thick cushion to raise your buttocks. Either way, the point is to embody the wakefulness that you are cultivating through mindfulness practice and in a position that you can maintain for a while. Allow your hands to rest comfortably on your lap.
  • If it is comfortable, close your eyes. If not, keep your eyes open, positioning your head straight ahead and then lower your gaze to a spot on the floor.
  • Make a gentle intention to be alert and aware of your experience.
  • When you are ready, draw your attention to your breathing. Notice your breath wherever you notice it the most. Allow the breath to be as it is. Don’t try to change your breathing, just bring gentle awareness to it.
  • During meditation, the mind will leave the breath. This is not considered a distraction, but part of the practice. You do not have to try to suppress thoughts. Each time you notice that your mind has left your breath, take no responsibility for its wondering. The mind simple wanders. With patience and gentleness, bring your attention back to the breath. If you notice that you are judging yourself during this process, you can let go of that judgment.
  • You may start with a few minutes or as long as you want. People with an established practice typically meditate for 20 to 45 minutes.
  • When your practice of focusing on the breath feels stable, you can expand your attention to include focusing on your body as a whole, your thoughts and feelings or perhaps the sounds around you. Note the nature of thoughts and feelings and that individual thoughts do not last long. Avoid being drawn into thinking about the thoughts, simply observe and note them. Come back to your breath if you get lost in this process.
  • If you have the urge to react to physical sensations, such an itch, simply notice the urge and stay with the focus of your meditation. After experimenting allowing the sensation to be present without changing, if you feel you need to move, then do so with awareness.

International Mesothelioma Trends and Statistics

Posted on Apr 12, 2017 8:27pm PDT

The Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reports that asbestos has been banned in 65 countries which have a total population of over billion people or approximately 16% of the global population.

This means that the majority of the world still uses the naturally occurring and potentially deadly fiber. Unfortunately many countries don’t keep accurate records of mesothelioma which makes understanding the global effect of the epidemic less clear. However what is clear is that data in countries which accurately record mesothelioma diagnoses and deaths show that numbers of deaths continue to rise.

Countries with the greatest number of mesothelioma deaths per 100,000 include

  • United Kingdom: 3.3-3.6
  • Australia: 3.2
  • The Netherlands: 2.85
  • New Zealand: 2.5
  • Belgium: 2.0
  • Republic of Malta: 1.2

Countries with the fewest numbers of Mesothelioma diagnoses per 100,000 include

  • Ireland: .8
  • Lebanon: .3-.6
  • Poland: .3
  • Estonia: .3
  • Spain: .2
  • India: .05

To view the full journal article click here.


New Lung Cancer Drug Study Leaves Mesothelioma Patients Hopeful

Posted on Apr 11, 2017 3:22pm PDT

Last week concluded the annual Washington D.C. conference of the American Association for Cancer Researchers (AACR).

At the conference, scientists and researchers from around the world reported their most recent breakthroughs and innovations for various forms of cancer.

One of the stand out presentations for the week included Bristol-Myers Squib drug in first phase clinical trials called Opdivo (MDX-1106). The drug increased the five year survival for some patients with non-small cell lung cancer to 16% from the National Cancer’s Institute’s rate of 4.9%. To read the whole study click here.

Opvido operates by blocking the PD-L1 protein and leading the immune system to fight the cancerous cells. This type of treatment protocol also is a signature of fighting pleural mesothelioma. The results are very promising for other types of cancers including asbestos related ones.

Dr. Brahmer stated that, “We are performing further studies to learn why these patients did so well for so long and better understand which patients can stop treatment at two years and which of them need to continue treatment beyond two years.”


MS Treatment Shows Promise For Mesothelioma Patients

Posted on Apr 10, 2017 11:32am PDT
Mesothelioma Research Foundation of America

Mesothelioma researchers from the University of Hawaii Cancer Center have seen promising results from the application of a treatment protocol for multiple sclerosis (MS).

The researchers are investigating the use of an immune system modulator called FTY720which comes from a fungus called Iscaria Sinclairi. The results were published in The Journey of Translational Medicine.

Scientists believe that FTY720 has potential therapeutic applications for other cancers as well but the University of Hawaii’s tests represent the first time that the treatment has been used for pleural mesothelioma. Currently the test has just been performed on mice but the results are promising.

Agata Szymiczek, author of the published study, stated that, “FTY720 administration in vivo [in a live subject] effectively reduced tumor burden in mice without apparent toxicity.” While there is still much work to be done, we remain hopeful that there may be positive results in the near future.



Do you have questions related to malignant mesothelioma?

Ask Questions FREE about mesothelioma cancer treatment.
Dr. Parkash S. Gill - Oncologist, professor of Medicine and Pathology and has led our research team for years.

Dear Cancer Research Supporter:

Hi! I'm Dr. Parkash Gill, professor of Medicine and Pathology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC; head of the tumor and vascular biology laboratory at the University of Southern California; the Leader of the Translational and Clinical Sciences Program at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Ezalow Family Chair in Cancer Therapeutics.

My focus, and that of the research team with me, is on the future of mesothelioma cancer care -- and I'm fortunate enough to benefit from funds provided by the Mesothelioma Research Foundation of America. Their funds help me, and the young scientists working with me, to explore promising new approaches and technologies to treat mesothelioma cancer.

My work is in the emerging field called: Targeted Cancer Therapy (TCT). Targeted therapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs, however, it is different from traditional chemotherapy. The drugs known as targeted therapy help stop cancer from growing and spreading. They work by targeting specific genes or proteins. These genes and proteins are found in cancer cells or in cells related to cancer growth, like blood vessel cells.

My hope is that Trials for TCT research will be a standard part of the options offered on every mesothelioma cancer patient's treatment plan. Certified clinicians will use TCT models to plan the best care, and select the most effective drug treatment for each person's individual disease, translating to fewer side-effects upon the patient; the patient spends less time in treatment; and more patients have better results.

My research team and I are looking forward to where our studies take us, thanks to the extraordinary funding and support from Mesothelioma Research Foundation of America. If you would like to discover more about Targeted Cancer Therapy and the hope it holds for the future of mesothelioma cancer care, please use the following form to contact us!

Best regards,

Dr. Parkash Gill, Oncologist

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