IMRT is a new radiotherapy technique proven to be effective in local control of malignant mesothelioma. IMRT treatment delivers highly targeted doses of radiation to cancerous tumors regardless of their size or the complexity of their shape. The advantage of IMRT treatment over standard radiotherapy is that it limits the amount of radiation hitting surrounding healthy tissue. Tumors that were once viewed as untreatable because of their proximity to vital organs can now be treated using IMRT.
Immunotherapy (also called biological therapy) is the process of manipulating the immune system to further protect the body against disease. Recent studies have suggested that the immune system might be able to differentiate between normal cells and cancerous cells (thereby eliminating all cancerous cells).
The substances that are used in immunotherapy are referred to as biological response modifiers. BRMs help to improve the immune system's ability to fight disease. BRMs currently being tested in cancer research include interferons, tumor necrosis factor, colony-stimulating factors, interleukins, monoclonal antibodies and cancer vaccines.
Gene therapy treats malignant mesothelioma through the insertion of foreign genes into cells and tissue with the goal of correcting the disease at the DNA level. For example, if someone has a hereditary disease whereby they are missing a tumor suppressor gene, gene therapy has the potential to replace the missing gene and correct the abnormality (this is known as replacement gene therapy).
Two basic types of gene therapy are being tested:
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