The mesothelium is the lining that covers most internal organs. The cancer of the mesothelium is relatively rare and is, in most cases, treatable if discovered in time. This type of cancer is commonly known by the name mesothelioma and often afflicts people who have had prolonged exposure to asbestos and who have inhaled particles of asbestos. It usually starts in the lungs, but it can occur anywhere in a person’s abdomen including the stomach and organs.
As with most types of cancer the course of treatment will usually involve radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of the two. These methods do not always work and are often unpleasant for the patient therefore there are a number of clinical trials underway to find drugs and therapies that are more effective treatments for mesothelioma.
Gene therapy for mesothelioma
This is one of the more promising experimental treatments for mesothelioma and for many other types of diseases as well. One form of gene therapy amounts to replacing the gene of the cancer cells with genes that enable the treatment drugs to be more effective against them. Other forms of gene therapy include placing genes into the cancer patient’s body to stop the production of cells that feed the cancer and to place genes that cause the cancer to grow. So far tests performed on mice with gene therapy have shown promise.
Immune system therapy
With this kind of treatment, the patient’s immune system is enhanced to enable it to fight cancer cells. This can be done with active immunotherapy or passive immunotherapy. The active type of therapy strengthens the patient’s system with drugs, the passive type does it via proteins that compensate for the patient’s weakened immune system. The presently available forms of this therapy are of the passive type rather than the active type, but there are clinical trials on alternative treatments for mesothelioma that use the active method of enhancing the immune system. This type of treatment also includes the use of preventive vaccines.
This is a method of killing cancer cells with the use of chemicals that produce oxygen when exposed to a certain wavelength of light. This method kills the cancer cells in a particular location. The patient is injected with a chemical that circulates throughout their body. The chemical is absorbed by the cancer cells which are then exposed to light and killed. The dead tumors are removed later on via endoscopic surgery.