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Mesothelioma Lawyer - Article - Interferon Alpha May Help Treat Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: Presented at STS

Posted on Feb 03, 2006 | DGDispatch

Interferon Alpha May Help Treat Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: Presented at STS

By Mike Fillon

CHICAGO, IL -- February 3, 2006 -- Interferon alpha maintenance therapy may provide substantial improvement in survival over existing therapies in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), according to findings presented here at the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) 42 nd Annual Meeting.

In the study, researchers used a prospective database of patients with MPM to analyze the outcomes with multimodality therapy using radical pleurectomy/decortication and adjuvant radiotherapy with and without maintenance interferon alpha.

One of the study's researchers, Robert B. Cameron, MD, Thoracic Surgical Oncologist, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California , Los Angeles , California , United States , discussed the findings during a presentation on January 31 st .

Interferon alpha is a naturally occurring protein with immunomodulatory, antiproliferative and antiviral properties. Synthetic versions exist for treatment of a variety of diseases.

MPM is a rare but aggressive tumor that grows in the pleura. Each year, 2500 cases of MPM are diagnosed in the US , with 70% to 90% of them associated with asbestos exposure. Overall survival without treatment is 6 months, and 5-year survival after the tumor is removed is less than 15%.

In this study, 139 patients with MPM were evaluated between 1997 and 2004. Of 65 patients who underwent surgery, 47 male and mean age was 64.2 years (range 27-82).

External beam radiation therapy started 4 to 6 weeks following resection and was delivered using three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy was completed in 79% of surgical patients. A subset of 11 patients received daily interferon alpha-2b injections up to 2 times 106 units/m 2 /day as maintenance therapy.

According to Dr. Cameron, 28% of the 65 patients are alive to date and there were no postoperative deaths. Pathology showed epithelioid histology in 60%, mixed in 33.8% and sarcomatoid in 6.2%.

Pathologic staging revealed American Joint Committee on Cancer stages I/II in 52.3% of patients and stages III/IV in 47.7%; 94% of patients underwent a complete resection.

"The median overall survival was 13.2 months, the group completing surgery and radiation 17.7 months, and a remarkable 20.7 months for those receiving interferon maintenance therapy [ P < .001]," said Dr. Cameron.

Dr. Cameron noted that radiation therapy also was strongly associated with increased survival ( P < .001). The site of failure was locoregional (either pleura space, pericardium, or peritoneum) in all but two patients.

[ Presentation title: Improved Survival with Interferon Alpha Maintenance Therapy Following Pleurectomy/Decortication and Radiation for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Abstract 21 ]

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