Research on a mesothelioma trial suggests important clues to providing improved treatments for thousands of patients each year

Professor Sanjay Popat, Consultant Medical Oncologist presented his research which compared the effects of immunotherapy with the checkpoint inhibitor, pembrolizumab, to standard chemotherapy after patients with mesothelioma relapsed on or after their first treatment.

Whilst the trial drug, pembrolizumab, was not superior to chemotherapy, survival rates were similar, suggesting that immunotherapy could be given to mesothelioma patients as an alternative to chemotherapy. 

Chief investigator and presenter Professor Sanjay Popat, Consultant Medical Oncologist said:

“At The Royal Marsden, we are always striving to find kinder and improved treatments for patients and these new results may provide important clues to future treatment for thousands of mesothelioma patients each year. In studies of lung cancer, we have already learned that we can improve results with immunotherapy by combining it with chemotherapy and the same may be true with mesothelioma.

“In our trial, nearly four times more patients responded to immunotherapy than standard chemotherapy, but unfortunately these responses did not delay progression or improve survival. These findings are disappointing but, as in previous studies, some patients benefitted from immunotherapy for long periods. If we can find out how this happens, we will have a better idea of which patients should preferentially receive this treatment over chemotherapy.”

Mesothelioma is a rare but fatal form of thoracic cancer that is diagnosed in more than 30,000 people per year and kills over 25,000.
 

If we can find out how this happens, we will have a better idea of which patients should preferentially receive this treatment over chemotherapy.

Chief investigator and presenter Professor Sanjay Popat, Consultant Medical Oncologist