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New immunotherapy trial gives hope to those with asbestos related cancer

The Royal Marsden has opened a groundbreaking immunotherapy trial called PROMISE-meso, to potentially give a new treatment option for people with relapsed mesothelioma

12 October 2017

There is no standard treatment for individuals with pretreated malignant mesothelioma and chemotherapy is often used with a poor survival rate. In earlier phase I and II trials of pembrolizumab – a form of immunotherapy - 76% of patients with relapsed mesothelioma showed disease control and 61% of the patients with evidence of the tumour shrinkage (HRA).

Pembrolizumab has already been approved to treat another form of lung cancer (non-small cell lung cancer), melanoma and Hodgkin lymphoma. In the PROMISE-meso trial patients are randomly allocated pembrolizumab or chemotherapy, to formally test the activity of pembrolizumab.

Study chair, Dr Sanjay Popat, Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden, said: 

“This is a groundbreaking trial for those with mesothelioma. We’ve only been able to offer chemotherapy to patients in the past. This new trial is a potential game changer for those with this form of cancer.”

Mesothelioma is a type of lung cancer which is almost always caused by asbestos exposure. Usually there is a lag time of 30-years between exposure and presentation. Median survival rate is around nine to 12-months. In the UK, where substantial asbestos exposure continued until the 1970s, the death rate is the highest in the world with a current epidemic of new cases, which is predicted to continue for another five to 10-years.