Mesothelioma: advances in chemotherapy

Revue des Maladies Respiratoire. 2005 Dec;22(6-C2):49-54. [Link]

Jacoulet P.

Service de Pneumologie, CHU, Besancon, France.


Chemotherapy is often the only treatment possible for locally advanced or metastatic mesothelioma. This paper recalls which drugs might have therapeutic benefits in this condition and reviews recent studies of chemotherapy or targeted therapy. If the patient cannot be enrolled in a therapeutic trial the first line therapy in the absence of contraindications is a combination of cisplatin and pemetrexed, the latter having received a licence for this indication in September 2004. Among the alternatives reviewed are taxanes, liposomal anthracyclines, topoisomerase inhibitors, cisplatin derivatives, vinca alkaloids, and antimetabolites. Although the first three have show little or no benefit the vinca alkaloids (vinorelbine, vinflunine) and particularly the antimetabolites (gemcitabine, raltitrexed, pemetrexed) are very promising. Recent studies have looked most frequently at combinations of an anti-metabolite and a platinum salt, with data available from nearly 200 patients treated with gemcitabine. These studies have had fairly homogeneous results showing a one year survival of about 50%. Some preliminary data from studies of second line chemotherapy is also available. Finally studies of targeted therapies such as anti-EGFR, anti VEGF and anti PDGF are underway but have not as yet demonstrated major therapeutic benefit.