Mesothelioma Research has been stepped up by scientists because of the increased number of mesothelioma cases cited in recent years. Scientists and Governments have stepped up their efforts to research the disease and develop better diagnostic and treatment methods.
Understanding How to Treat Mesothelioma
Military veterans, particularly Navy vets, have a higher risk than the general population of developing mesothelioma, given their exposure to asbestos on board ship and in shipyards. As a result, the United States Department of Defense recently announced a $50 million donation toward mesothelioma research. Other major sources of research grants and funding come from the National Institute of Cancer, the National Institutes of Health, the Mesothelioma Research Foundation of America, pharmaceutical companies, and corporations.
Most of the Mesothelioma Research being conducted, however, focuses on treatment, as the current treatment is not always effective. Surgery to remove the cancer may not be possible unless the condition is diagnosed early. Doctors have difficulty treating mesothelioma with traditional radiation methods because the tumors do not grow in a localized area and are widespread. Chemotherapy has often been only moderately successful as well. Until a better solution is developed, many doctors attack the cancer with all three major forms of treatment.
Three dimensional (3DCRT) and intensity-modulated (IMRT) tools are employed in radiation therapy to deliver an accurate flow of radiation to tumors. Using traditional external beam radiation to treat mesothelioma is tricky because the device cannot accurately aim the radiation only at the affected areas and kills a great deal of healthy cells. This makes the treatment less effective and may create a damaging effect on the patient’s health. Mesothelioma Research funds are dedicated to improving this process.
New chemotherapy drugs, such as Raltitrexed, are being developed to reduce cancerous tumors. In addition, doctors have recently tried new techniques to improve the effectiveness of tumor reduction. These techniques involve warming chemotherapy drugs and placing the drug directly into the tumor during surgery. By increasing the dosage directed toward the tumor, doctors increase the chances of eliminating the cancerous growth. This also reduces undesirable side effects associated with chemotherapy drugs.
New research by the National Institute of Cancer has shown that mesothelioma tumors require the growth of new blood vessels to survive. Drugs called angiogenesis inhibitors have been developed to inhibit the growth of blood vessels. When the oxygen supply ceases, the cancerous tumor growth stops as well. Avastin, Nexavar, Onconase, Gleevac, Sprycel, and Sutent are drugs that scientists are researching for their effectiveness in preventing cancer growth.
Many scientists are using mesothelioma research funds for gene therapy research. This treatment aims to replace defective genes in cells rather than destroy them. Viruses are developed to invade the infected cells with the gene, which then stop the cancerous growth and encourage that of normal cells.
Scientists have recently explored the use of a technique that kills cancer cells through the use of a drug activated by light. The drug is administered intravenously. After two days, localized light is applied, which destroys the cancer cells.
A number of clinical trials being held throughout the country are focused on testing these and other methods of treatment. Patients may elect to take part in these trials, not just to provide them hope and an effective treatment, but to further the cause of Mesothelioma Research aimed at researching this devastating disease.