Oncologist. 2014 July 24. [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Ai J, Stevenson JP.


Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is an uncommon disease most often associated with occupational asbestos exposure and is steadily increasing in worldwide incidence. Patients typically present at an older age, with advanced clinical stage and other medical comorbidities, making management quite challenging. Despite great efforts, the prognosis of MPM remains poor, especially at progression after initial treatment. Macroscopic complete resection of MPM can be achieved through extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) or extended (ie, radical) pleurectomy (e-P/D) in selected patients and can result in prolonged survival when incorporated into a multimodality approach. Given the morbidity associated with surgical resection of MPM, optimizing identification of appropriate patients is essential. Unfortunately, most patients are not candidates for EPP or e-P/D due to advanced stage, age, and/or medical comorbidity. Pemetrexed and platinum combination chemotherapy has become the cornerstone of therapy for patients with unresectable disease because the combination is associated with improved survival and quality of life in treated patients. However, MPM eventually becomes resistant to initial therapy, and benefit to further lines of therapy has not been substantiated in randomized clinical trials. Translational research has provided exciting insights into tumorigenesis, biomarkers, and immune response in MPM, leading to the development of multiple novel therapeutic agents that are currently in clinical trials. These advances hold the promise of a new era in the treatment of MPM and suggest that this disease will not be left behind in the war on cancer.