New Study Suggests Safer Alternative Radiation Therapy for Mesothelioma

The results of a study examining the safety and efficacy of radiation treatments for patients who have been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma (mesothelioma cancer in the pleural lining of the lungs) was recently published in the medical journal, Practical Radiation Oncology. The team of researchers concluded that proton therapy for pleural mesothelioma may be a safer alternative from standard radiotherapy that uses photons to kill the cancer cells in the patient’s organs.

The study was commissioned by the International Particle Therapy Co-operative Group (PTCOG) Thoracic Subcommittee. The 16-member research team pointed out that radiation therapy for the treatment of mesothelioma “remains challenging, as normal tissue toxicity limits the amount of radiation that can be safely delivered to the pleural surfaces, especially radiation dose to the contralateral lung.” In laymen’s terms, this means that a patient who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma can only tolerate a limited amount of radiation as a way to kill cancer cells before the healthy tissue that is located around the cancer also becomes affected by the radiation.

The study team found that by using proton therapy, more healthy tissue was protected from the harmful effects of the radiation. Compared to photon radiation therapy, patients also needed a significant reduction in the dose of the treatment to the nearby tissue and this means a much more positive result for that healthy and non-cancerous tissue.

Researchers did point out, however, that determining the best dose of proton radiation therapy can be challenging because of changes to the patient’s condition because of the way the cancer may be spreading to other areas of the body.

With traditional photon radiation therapy, X-ray particles are delivered to the tumor by using a linear accelerator. This damages the DNA of the cells, which prohibits the cells from multiplying and growing like they normally would. This eventually destroys the tumor. But doctors can only use a limited amount of photon radiation therapy because of the way this type of radiation kills the healthy tissue as it kills the tissues where the cancer cells have invaded.

Photons pass through both cells that have mesothelioma cancer, as well as the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. According to the results of this study, proton cells not only cause more intense damage to the cancer cells than photos do, but they also do so while avoiding damaging that healthy tissue. This results in less damage to any vital organs that are surrounding the area where the tumor is located, including the heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, and stomach.

As of this writing, there is still no cure for mesothelioma, but there are countless studies and much research that continues to go on in an effort to find a cure, as well as effective treatments that will allow patients with mesothelioma to live longer and healthier lives.

Call a Virginia Mesothelioma Attorney for Help

In addition to pleural mesothelioma, there are three other areas where this very aggressive form of cancer can invade:

  • Pericardial: Affects the tissue surrounding the heart. Symptoms include chest pain and difficulty breathing.
  • Peritoneal: Develops in abdominal tissue. Symptoms include pain, weight loss, excessive swelling, and tissue lumps in the abdominal area
  • Tunica Vaginalis: Develops in the testicular tissue. Symptoms include a swollen area or mass on the testicle.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, call Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to speak with one of our skilled Virginia mesothelioma attorneys and find out what legal options you may have. Our legal team can help you with filing a claim for damages even if the company that was responsible for exposing you to the asbestos is out of business or has filed for bankruptcy. We can investigate your case to determine how you were exposed, as well as identify what products or materials you were exposed to caused you to develop the disease.